Romain Barras (FRA) throwing the Discus in Arles (Lorenzo Sampaolo) © Copyright
Preview Arles, France

Barras and Zelinka the favourites in Arles - PREVIEW - IAAF Combined Events Challenge

The host country’s best Decathlon specialist Romain Barras, seventh in the last two editions of the IAAF World Championships in Helsinki and Osaka, will carry the major hopes for the host nation in the men’s Decathlon at the IAAF Combined Events Challenge meeting in Arles, France on 7-8 June.

Barras, who holds a PB of 8298 points set in Kladno last year and was also a World University Games gold medallist from Daegu 2003, will aim at qualifying for the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Another French athlete aiming at booking his ticket for Beijing is Rudy Bourgignon, who finished seventh at the European Indoor Championships in Birmingham 2007 in the Heptathlon one spot behind Barras.

The goal of qualification for this summer’s Olympic Games will be the focus for many athletes competing in the southern French city. One of these athletes could be Italian specialist William Frullani who won a European under 23 bronze medallist in Amsterdam 2001. His career has been plagued by many injuries but, after dropping out before the Pole Vault in Desenzano del Garda, Frullani will try again to score the qualifyng 8000 score for Bejing in Arles.

Other major names in the Arles men’s Decathlon will be former african champion Hamdi Dhouibi from Tunisia and 2003 Asian champion Vitaliy Smirnov from Uzbekistan.

Women’s Heptathlon

The top names in the women’s Heptathlon will be 2006 Commonwealth Games fourth placer Jessica Zelinka from Canada and 2005 European Under 23 Laureen Hoos from Holland.

Zelinka, who set her 6343 PB in Götzis last year, competed in the Austrian meeting last weekend in her comeback competition from injury. The Canadian won the Arles meeting in 2006.

Hoos set her career best of 6291 points when she won the European Under 23 in Erfurt in 2005.

Last year the Heptahlon was notably won by Russian rising star Tatyana Chernova, who was the winner in Götzis this year, with a sensational 6768 points score which was not ratified for statistical purposes because the wind blew too strongly as often happens in this Arles meeting.
       
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF