World youth decathlon champion Niklas Kaul enjoyed the experience of a lifetime On Camp With Asthon Eaton in March. Now he wants more at the Bydgoszcz World U20s.

The Brothers Grimm did not see Niklas Kaul coming.

Before he heads of to Bydgoszcz for the World U20 Championships (formerly known as the World Juniors) he has to wrap up his end-of-year school assignments. One of those is a performance for his theatre class.

What is the play? We ask. “Snow White,” we’re told. What is your role? “I don’t know how to say it in English.” We like where this is going. “Erm. One of the small guys.” A dwarf? “Yeah.” A dwarf! “Yeah!”

There was no dwarf called Multi.

Maybe there ought to have been. Or maybe 6ft 2ins Kaul was simply mis-cast.

The 18-year-old German, a member of Mainz athletic club, is an old friend of SPIKES. We marvelled at his efficiency in the high jump when he won decathlon gold at last year’s World Youth Championships in Cali with a championship record 8002 points. We envied as he was mentored by Ashton Eaton while On Camp earlier this year.

So it is good to hear that Kaul’s season has been going “really well”. He posted a personal best 6.97m in the long jump at the weekend, a few weeks on from totting up 7910 points to qualify for Bydgoszcz.

Given he is young for the age group that is an impressive score – it puts him third in the world U20 rankings. It is the result of a winter spent working on his weaknesses.

“For long jump I now have a longer run up than the year before. That’s a point I’ve changed,” he says of his improvement in that event. He has also improved his discus thrown and pace over 1500m, shaving his personal best down by 13 seconds to 4:29.24.

“In the winter, we really ran a lot on the track. Many 1000m and 800m runs. In the discus we’ve improved the technique,” he adds.

In Cali, Kaul hauled himself into the lead with a huge 78.05m javelin throw in event nine. He underlined his throwing talent with silver in the individual event. It is his strongest event, yet he has done little by way of training in it this year.

“My elbow has hurt since March, so I can’t throw javelin really well,” he says. “I hope in Bydgosczc I’m going to throw a little better than I have been.”

He is also quick to add that he wants to improve his sprint speed. “The 100m is my weakest event,” he says, though he still knocked out an 11.53 PB in June.

Harry Marra, Werner Visser, Maribel Caicedo, Ashton Eaton, Khalifa St Fort and Niklas Kaul (Phil Johnson / TrackTown USA)

Kaul (r) On Camp with Ashton Eaton in March

He insists that he feels no pressure to perform in Poland, despite his U18 title and high ranking. Kaul has a wise head on his big dwarf shoulders, and knows at his age the most important thing is experience.

“It’s going to be a very good competition to learn with the other guys,” he says. “There are 45 people who can win a medal. It’s going to be fun.

“I’m younger than the others, so it’s a year for me to learn. Next year, at the European Junior Championships [in Grosseto, Italy], I want to be really good. This year is to learn. There’s no pressure.”

He has learned a lot already in 2016. A lot of what he witnessed in Eugene and Portland while On Camp has informed his preparation for Poland.

“Train, but train not too much,” he recalls of watching Ashton Eaton prepare for his world title defence. “And relax. I think that’s the key to making a really good decathlon.

“In Portland it was really good to see how elite athletes warm up, how they train, how they compete. That was great for me. A big experience.”

Kaul, who played handball for ten years and enjoys skiing in the winter, says he wants to study sports and science at university. He originally wanted to stay in Germany, but after seeing the athletic facilities at the University of Oregon, his mind has been opened. “I don’t know if I want to study in Germany or the US because of that,” he admits.

But that decision can wait. For now his mind is on other things.

“I want to be a teacher in the future,” he adds. “But I don’t think about a career yet. Or other sports. Only athletics.”

We know the feeling. 

RE-READ: Niklas Kaul's dazzing display of Germany efficiency

RE-READ: What happened On Camp With Asthon Eaton