Jessica Ennis, hear leading Marie Collonvillé, en route to her PB victory in Desanzano (Lorenzo Sampaolo) © Copyright

Desenzano to mark Ennis' return to competition - IAAF Combined Events Challenge Preview

The comeback of British Heptathlon star Jessica Ennis will be in the spotlight at the 22nd edition of the Multistars in Desenzano del Garda, the first leg of the 2009 IAAF World Combined Events Challenge.

Ennis, winner in Desenzano in 2007 with 6388 points, will face past winners of the Desenzano meeting like Marie Collonvillé of France (first in 2004 and 2008), Margaret Simpson of Ghana (first in 2003 and 2005) and Karolina Tyminska of Poland (winner with 6178 points in 2006).

Ennis was sidelined by a stress fracture sustained at the Hypo-Meeting in Götzis in 2008 and was forced to miss out on the Olympic Games in Bejing where she could have fought for a medal following a great 2007 season in which she finished fourth at the IAAF World Championships in Osaka with an impressive score of 6469 points. In Osaka Ennis set four PBs with two notable results in the 100 metres Hurdles (12.97) and the 200 metres (23.15).

Ennis, also a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist in Melbourne 2006, started her international career in Desenzano where she competed as a youth athlete. In 2007 the athlete from Sheffield grabbed the headlines in the Italian meeting when she cleared a High Jump British record of 1.95.

Her winning 6388 score broke Denise Lewis’ British under-23 record of 6325 points set in 1994.

Former winners set to be main challengers

Experienced French hepthathlete Marie Collonvillé, seventh at the Olympic Games in Athens 2004, returns to Desenzano as the defending champion. It was the second win in Desenzano for Collonvillé who also won in 2004 with 6228 points.

Margaret Simpson recently returned to competitions winning the African Combined Events Championships in Mauritius in April with 5667 points and will be looking for a qualifying score for the IAAF World Championships in Berlin this weekend in the Italian town overlooking Lake Garda.
Simpson, winner in Desenzano in 2003 (5952 points) and 2005 (6006 points), won the 2005 IAAF World Championships bronze medal in the Heptathlon in Helsinki and the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and scored a lifetime best of 6423 points in Götzis in 2005.

Tyminska won in Desenzano in 2006 with 6178 points and then went on to finish seventh at the Olympic Games in Bejing with 6428 points and fifth at the 2009 European Indoor Championships in Torino with 4542 points. 

Hanna Melnychenko of Ukraine, is another well-known name in Desenzano. The Ukrainian, who is married to Italian Decathleton specialist William Frullani and competes for an Italian club, finished second last year with 6195 points, a PB which she then improved to 6306 points later in the season at the European Cup for Combined Events in Hengelo. Melnychenko finished 14th at the Olympic Games in Bejing with 6165.

Other 6000 points scorers in the field who can fight for a placing in the top-three are Marina Goncharova of Russia (PB 6319 points in Götzis in 2008), Lucimara Da Silva of Brazil (PB 6076 points in 2008 when she finished 17th at the Bejing Olympic Games), and 2009 European Indoor Championships eighth placer Yvonne Wisse of the Netherlands (PB 6098 points in Götzis in 2008).

The best Italian hope is set on Francesca Doveri who had a good winter season in which she broke the national indoor pentathlon record with 4423 points and finished ninth at the European Indoor Championships in Torino.

Men's field 

The top favourite in the men’s Decathlon is US Jake Arnold. Arnold finished 13th at the 2007 IAAF World Championships in Osaka with 8004 points and set his PB of 8215 points at the US National Championships in Sacramento in 2007.

France will send a good team to Desenzano led by 2007 European Indoor Championships seventh placer Rudy Bourguignon (PB 8025 set in 2005) and Guillaume Barras (the younger brother of international decathlon specialist Romain Barras).

Other top names in the field are Roland Schwarzl of Austria (PB 8102 points), Mikalai Shubiannok of Belarus (PB 8026 points) and Lars Albert of Germany (PB 7933 points).

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF