Jennifer Oeser prevails in Ratingen (Iris Hensel) © Copyright
General News Ratingen, Germany

Garcia and Oeser prevail in Ratingen - IAAF Combined Events Challenge

Yordani Garcia of Cuba and Germany’s Jennifer Oeser maintained their first day leads to win their respective titles at the Erdgas Meeting in Ratingen, the fourth leg of the 2010 IAAF Combined Events Challenge.

Garcia defeated his countryman Leonel Suarez, the reigning World silver medallist, 8288 to 8243 while Oeser bettered her compatriot Lilli Schwarzkopf 6427 to 6386.

As the only international top athletes that participated in the meeting were the two Cubans, the main interest of the 14th Erdgas meeting was focused on the qualification of the German athletes for the European championships in Barcelona next month.

As Andre Niklaus, Michael Schrader and Arthur Abele were all absent due to injuries, the hosts had a limited number of candidates for the Barcelona squad. Moreover, the only athlete with a qualifier, Pascal Behrenbruch, sustained an injury in Götzis and it is likely that he cannot start in Barcelona.  This would mean that Germany won’t have any decathletes in Barcelona, a first in the history of the European Championships.

“I have never seen so many injuries during my time as coach,” said Claus Marek, the national Decathlon coach for the past 20 years. “We have to reconsider the situation as we have also medical and social problems with the younger athletes.”

There was better news for Germany in the Heptathlon with the participation of the runner-up Schwarzkopf. Announcing earlier this year that she would bypass this season to concentrate on finishing her studies in Sport Science, the 26-year-old reconsidered. “I feel good and the studies are going well,” she said. “And that is why I want to give it a try.”

Garcia surprises in the Javelin to secure the win - Decathlon

Garcia, the overnight leader, continued his momentum on the second day by winning the 110m Hurdles. Despite a head wind of 0.7 and in chilly conditions he ran a decent 14.30, well ahead of the 14.63 run by his countryman Suarez.

The strength of the Cuban athletes in the men’s events continued. In the Discus Throw the third Cuban athlete, Alexis Chivas, took the event with a 46.84m throw. Garcia produced a throw of 45.52m to increase his margin over Suarez to 126 points.

The Cubans were not particularly affected by the non-arrival of their poles in the Pole Vault. Jumping on borrowed poles, Garcia cleared 4.80m and Suarez 4.70m, decent efforts for both given the difficult conditions. With Suarez’s better events still to come, the final outcome was yet to be decided.

Suarez was the big favourite heading into the ninth event as he started as the best javelin thrower. That detail, however, did not impress Garcia. Suarez reached a solid 68.99 but even here he was beaten by Garcia, who reached 69.17m, giving him a 150 point lead.

Suarez clocked 4:26.10 in the 1500m, the second best of the day, but Garcia's margin was simply too big, and the 666 points he earned for his 4:42.27 run was more than adequate to secure the win with 8288 points.

Oeser and Schwarzkopf go down to the wire - Heptathlon

In the Long Jump Oeser continued her strong performance of the first day with a winning leap of 6.42m. Schwarzkopf produced a decent leap of 6.22m to remain well within striking distance with her best events still to come. Most remarkable in the event was the 6.41m leap by 16-year-old Sara Gambetta, a massive 50 centimetres better than she’s ever leaped in a Heptathlon. “It seems I have a good coach,” said the daughter of Carlos Gambetta, the former decathlete from Argentina and her present coach.

In the javelin Schwarzkopf did not disappoint her many supporters in the stadium with her 53.16m throw. But Oeser’s 47.46m was only one metre from her personal best, enough to maintain her lead. Oeser’s advantage was still 40 points, or 2.8 seconds in the 800m.

In the final event, the pair ran virtually even, until Schwarzkopf tried to make her break with 200 metres to go. But Oeser countered and edged Schwarzkopf 2:13.53 to 2:13.60 to take the win with 6427 points to Schwarzkopf’s 6386. Both have qualified for Barcelona, but Schwarzkopf is still uncertain about accepting the team slot.

Two other German athletes passed the 6000-point barrier: Maren Schwerdtner with 6045 points and, for the first time in her career, Claudia Rath with 6036.  

Junior competition

With Johannes Hock, the overnight leader in decathlon, missing the starting height in Pole Vault, the junior title in the event went to Sebastian Engel who tallied 7390. He will accompany the world junior leader Kai Kazmirek, who did not participate this weekend, to the world junior championships in Moncton, Canada.

Sara Gambetta was the winner in junior heptathlon. The 16-year-old athlete was the clear winner with 5854 points, followed by Tiia Udelhoven who scored 5683 points. Carolina Schäfer finished only fourth, and will not defend her World junior title from 2008.

Hans van Kuijen for the IAAF

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