Jake Arnold in Desenzano del Garda (Lorenzo Sampaolo) © Copyright
General News Desenzano del Garda, Italy

Ennis improves to 6587 pts in Desenzano del Garda – IAAF Combined Events Challenge

British Heptathlon star Jessica Ennis tallied 6587 points to break the Multistars - IAAF Combined Events Challenge meeting – record in Desenzano del Garda.

The Briton’s tally improved her previous PB of 6469 points set at the IAAF World Championships in Osaka where she finished fourth. Ennis eclipsed the long-standing meeting record held by Romanian Liliana Nastase who totalled 6565 points in 1992. 

It was a remarkable comeback for Ennis who was sidelined by a stress fracure in her foot which forced her to miss the Olympic Games in Bejing. Her 6587 points score is the third best ever performance on the British all-time list behind Denise Lewis’ 6831 and Judy Simpson’s 6623. Ennis overtook her rival Kelly Sotherton who scored 6547 points in Götzis in 2005.

Hanna Melnychenko finished runner-up with 6077 points ahead of Yuliya Tarasova (5989 points) and Yvonne Wisse from the Netherlands (5986 points).

American Jake Arnold took the win in the men’s Decathlon coming close to the 8000 point barrier with a 7994 score beating Roland Schwarzl from Austria (7913), Willem Coertzen from South Africa (7907) and Lars Albert from Germany (7903).

After 2008 injury, Ennis fully motivated

Ennis opened the second day of competitions leaping to 6.16m in the Long Jump (899 points). The Briton has switched from taking off from her right foot to her left in the competition to reduce the stress on her ankle following last year’s stress fracture. Tarasova, from Uzbekistan, won the Long Jump with 6.35m (959 points) and tied the same score of runner-up Hanna Melnychenko at 4590 points.  

Ennis dropped some points in the Long Jump but was still inside the pace to break her PB but when she speared the Javelin to a PB of 42.70m (719 points), she was on pace to set the meeting record with one event to go. The top-three ranking did not undergo major changes after the Javelin Throw with Melnychenko second with 5299 and Tarasova (5280) third. Margaret Simpson, the 2005 World bronze medallist, bounced back from a below-par first day where she ended in 14th position with her usual strong performance in the Javelin. She was best of the day with a 50.16m throw, moving her up to sixth place with 5023 points.

Heading into the final event, Ennis needed to run 2:11.39 to break Nastase’s meeting record. She exceeded all expectations by winning the two-lap event in a very good 2:09.88 worth 966 points which crowned a perfect weekend in which she won four events (100m Hurdles, High Jump, 200m and the 800m) and showed encouraging results in the events which were considered her weakest disciplines like the Shot Put and the Javelin Throw where she produced respectively 13.19m and 42.70m. She scored 4003 points on day one, her best ever first-day performance.

“Last year I missed everything because of the injury,” Ennis said. “This gave me more motivation to come back. I am now in my best shape ever. I came here to qualify for the World Championships in Berlin, so (the personal best) it is a big bonus. I set my javelin PB in a heptathlon competition although I speared to 43 metres in an individual event. The Long Jump was a bit down but I changed my take-off leg this year.”

Melnychenko and Tarasova managed to defend their minor podium places despite their below-par times in the 800m where they ran respectively 2:23.39 and 2:28.75. Yvonne Wisse ran 2:11.05 and came very close to threatening third place position which she missed by just three points.

With strong second day, Arnold pulls through - men’s decathlon

Czech Stanislav Sajdok, who cleared a very good 2.13m in the High Jump during the first day, won the 110m Hurdles in a solid 14.01 (973 points) taking the overall lead with 4986 points after six events. Jake Arnold from the USA, the 2007 NCAA champion who ended the first day in third place with 4920 points and just 13 points behind overnight winner Pavel Baar, also performed well clocking 14.28 (939 points) and took second place with 4959 points. Roland Schwarzl from Austria went into third place with 4924 points thanks to his 14.27 clocking in the hurdles (940 points). Willem Coertzen from South Africa, second at the end of the first day, ran 14.61 and was ranked fourth with a total of 4919 points. Baar ran 15.37 and faded back into sixth place with 4838. 

Arnold, who has a stronger second day, lived up to his favourite role, throwing 44.19m (750 points) in the discus and took the overall lead with 5709 points ahead of Schwarzl (43.72m) who moved up into second place with 5665 points. Lars Albert won the discus with a good 51.04m (892 points) to move up from ninth to third place with 5645 points.

The top-two positions saw Arnold leading over Schwarzl after the Pole Cault where the Austrian beat the American on countback at 5.05m (926 points). After the Pole Cault Arnold led with 6635 points to Schwarzl’s 6591. Albert vaulted 4.95m and defended his third overall position with 6540 points.

Coertzen, fourth after the Pole Vault with 6365 points, won the javelin spearing to 64.90m. He reduced his gap on second placer Albert to 79 points and on third placer Schwarzl to just 41 points before a close fight for the podium behind Arnold in the final 1500m race. Arnold, who threw 55.57m in the Javelin Throw, led with 7306 points before the 1500m over Albert (7256), Schwarzl (7218) and Coertzen (7177).

Arnold ran 4:38.71 and took the overall win with a 7994 point tally. The final event was decisive for the second and third positions. Schwarzl (4:37.70) clinched a narrow second place with 7913 points holding off Coertzen (4:32.16) by just six points. Coertzen’s score of 7907 is a new South African record. Albert missed the top-three by just four points.

“I am very happy but I am a bit jet-lagged,” Arnold said. “The organizers did a very good job. I am getting ready for Götzis. This year I will try to make the team for the World Championships in Berlin. It will be a very tough achievement to make the team against athletes like Bryan Clay and Trey Hardee.”

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF

Click here for full results