2010 Desenzano del Garda winner Marina Goncharova of Russia (Lorenzo Sampaolo) © Copyright
Preview Desenzano del Garda, Italy

2011 Combined Events Challenge to kick off in Desenzano del Garda – PREVIEW

The 2011 IAAF Combined Events Challenge kicks off on Saturday (7) with the Multistars in Desenzano del Garda, the traditional curtain-raiser of the season-long quest for the “World’s Greatest athletes”.

The 24th edition of the Multistars in Desenzano – Trofeo Zerneri Acciai on the banks of the Lake Garda will gather Decathlon and Heptathlon specialists from 24 countries.

The top names of the Decathlon will be South African Willem Coertzen and Austrian Roland Schwarzl.

Coertzen, who has already competed in the Multistars in the past, finished 14th at the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin  He has already competed in the decathlon in 2011 during the South African season scoring 8014 points in Durban. In Desenzano he achieved his best result in 2009 when he finished third with 7907 points, setting the then National record which he improved again three weeks later at the Hypo Meeting in Götzis with 8054 points and at the World Championships in Berlin with 8146 points. At the 2008 African Championships Coertzen won the silver medal in the Decathlon and the bronze medal in the pole vault.

Schwarzl finished second in the 2009 Multistars with 7913 points beating Coertzen by just six points and Desenzano will be a re-match of two years ago.

The other top-names expected are reigning Commonwealth Games silver medallist Brent Newdick from New Zealand (PB 8091 points), Britons Martin Brockmann and Ben Hazell, who finished third and fourth at the Commonwealth Games in New Dehli last October scoring 7712 and 7676 points respectively. Italian hopes will be carried by former European Under 23 bronze medallist William Frullani, who more recently finished sixth at the 2009 European Indoor Championships in Turin.  

Marina Goncharova from Russia, seventh at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Doha, will be looking to defend the Multistars title won last year with 6007 points. The Russian, who set her PB of 6319 points in Götzis 2008, won the bronze medal at the 2003 World Youth Championships and finished sixth at the World Junior Championships in Grosseto 2004.

Goncharova will take on Ghana’s former World bronze medallist Margaret Simpson, who won the Multistars twice in 2003 and 2005.

Among the other athletes who can fight for a top-three spot there are also 2006 World Junior silver medallist Ida Marcussen from Norway, who set her PB of 6226 points at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, last year’s Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Grace Clements, who scored 5819 points during her podium performance in New Dehli. Francesca Doveri (PB 5885 points), ninth at the 2009 European Indoor Championships in Turin and a solid individual 100 metres hurdles specialist with a PB of 13.33, will carry the major Italian hopes. 

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF