Ced’s the all-round good guy
HOW does one decide to take up decathlon?
Well, in Cedric Dubler's case it was while watching the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing that he got hooked, so to speak.
Dubler was an 800-metre and 100-metre runner who dabbled with the long jump before seeing Steve Hooker win the gold medal in the pole vault in China.
"I just said to Mum 'I want to do that', so we went to speak to the coach at Little Athletics and he suggested taking up the decathlon and it just went from there."
Now, eight years later, he is set to take on some of the best athletes in the world in Brazil in throwing, running and jumping, and cannot wait.
The Brisbane-born 21-year-old took the recent Australian Athletics Championships, which doubled up as the Olympic trials, by storm when he produced a huge personal best score of 8114 for the gruelling 10-discipline event.
In reaching that score, Dubler, the son of a Swiss father and a Belgian
mother, passed the qualifying score to get to Rio by 14 points.
The last Australian to make the Olympics in the event was Scott Ferrier on home soil in 2000.
Dubler was five years old at the time, so has no memories of Ferrier's performance, but said he was determined to enjoy the experience of the Olympics and do the best he could to finish as high as possible.
"It's been a bit of a dry spell," Dubler said of Australia's participation in the decathlon at the Olympics.
"I am not sure what to expect as I have never competed at senior level, but I won't have the pressure of the likes of Sally Pearson.
"Decathletes peak at age 28 or 29, so I see this as a long-term progression and am looking more to the next Olympics.
"But I am going with a goal to do well and I am going to sit down with my coach Eric Brown and see what we will have to do.
"We think that a score of 8300-8400 will get us in the top six and that would be good. It's not just about experience, I want to do the best I can and go from there."
Dubler was an outstanding junior athlete, finishing fourth as a 17-year-old at the 2012 World Junior Championships in Barcelona.
He then went on to win the silver medal with an Australian under-20 record at the 2014 World Junior Championships, also in the Spanish city.
While he does not know what to expect at the Olympics in terms of his own performance, he is also aware that in 10 events anything can happen.
"It's such a long event and it is tough both physically and mentally," said Dubler, who is likely to pick up more points in the running and jumping disciplines.
"All the athletes know what each other is going through, so that's why we are all pretty close. But because of that anything can happen.
"I just look at Stephen Bradbury (speed skating gold medal winner in Salt Lake City in 2002).
"You need to perform and I will be doing my best to do that.
"The medals will probably go to those who can get to 8400 or 8500, but you never know.
"It just comes down to what every
one does over the two days."
The Olympics will have a couple of new sports on the agenda in Rio with world sporting superstars such as Sonny Bill Williams, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day likely to be walking around the Olympic village later this year.
But while Dubler said he would be excited to meet people such as American basketballers LeBron James and Steph Curry or six-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt, he could not wait to come face to face with someone from his own sport, Olympic champion, world record holder and three-time world title winner, American Ashton Eaton.
"It's very exciting for me," he said.
"Just weeks ago I was striving to get enough points to make the Olympics and now I am going to get to compete against the best athlete in the world.
"It hasn't quite sunk in yet and it won't until I get on the starting line for the first event (100m).
"I will watch the likes of Ashton and Damian (Canadian decathlete Damian Warner) to see how they progress and learn from them.
"It will be good to go out there and meet them and maybe make some new friends, but I will also be trying to perform at my best."
As the Olympics get closer, Dubler will put together a plan for the Games.
He will stay in Brisbane before heading off to Townsville and Cairns for some warm-up events.
The Australian Olympic squad will then fly to Florida where it will be in camp for two weeks before heading to Rio and Dubler cannot wait.
"To me the Olympics has been a lifelong dream and that's the same for most athletes," he said.
"It's the biggest sporting event in the world, so to go there is a dream come true. I will be able to tick it off when we get there but like I said it's not just about experience.
"At my first world junior title I wasn't expected to do anything and came away with fourth.
"I am just hoping to do my best at the Olympics and wait and see what happens."