Kevin Mayer’s lead in the World Athletics Championships decathlon was slashed by Rico Freimuth after the discus on Saturday, leaving the Frenchman 24 points ahead after seven of the 10 events.
Mayer, the overnight leader, recorded the third fastest time of 13.75 seconds in the 110 metres hurdles but could manage only seventh place with a throw of 47.14 in the discus.
Freimuth, bronze medallist at the Beijing World Championships two years ago, threw 51.17 metres, the longest of the competition, to leave him on 6,272 points with Olympic silver medallist Mayer on 6,296.
Ukraine’s Oleksiy Kasyanov climbed to third with 6,095 after finishing fourth in the hurdles and second in the discus. Twice former world champion Trey Hardee had a miserable morning, failing to pick up any points, as he clattered into his third hurdle in the first event and then produced three foul throws in the discus.
Canadian Damian Warner, bronze medallist in Rio, was fastest in the hurdles with 13.63 seconds but a poor effort in the discus meant he dropped back down to fifth overall.
The event has been left open by the retirement earlier this year of American Ashton Eaton, who had dominated recently, winning the last two Olympic and world titles.
Warner was often seen as the man most likely to break Eaton’s dominance and London his best chance yet of winning a first world title.