Frederic Xhonneux (Belgium) wins the 1500m and the Decathlon overall at Desenzano del Garda, Italy (Lorenzo Sampaolo) © Copyright
General News

Hellebaut, and a little hard rock - Belgium’s rise as a power in Combined Events

Frederic Xhonneux from Belgium was the new name who emerged from the Multistars IAAF Combined Events Challenge meeting in Desenzano del Garda, Italy with a surprising win in the men’s Decathlon with a new national record.

Click here for the full meeting report.

The 25-year-old from Brussels scored 8147 points thanks to five new individual PBs (14.79 in the Shot Put, 1.95m in the High Jump, 45.36m in the Discus Throw, 4.95m in the Pole Vault, 63.56m in the Javelin Throw).

“I underwent surgery on my patella tendon,” confirmed Xhonneux, “this is why this result was a big surprise for me. I did not train during the winter and yet I managed to improve the Belgian record by 100 points and set five individual PBs. I qualified for the Olympic Games as I scored more than the 8075 points score required by the Belgian Federation to go to Beijing”, said a very delighted Xhonneux.

“The Belgian record had remained unbeaten for 30 years until 2005. Since then it has been improved five times during the last three years. Belgium is a small country but has a great team where there is a good atmosphere. Last year Belgium won the First League of the European Cup of Combined Events and will take part in the Super League in Hengelo at the end of June.”

Xhonneux, who began with athletics at the age of 7, credits most of this present success to inspiring World Indoor title win of his compatriot Tia Hellebaut in the women’s Pentathlon in Valencia last March. Hellebaut won the gold medal in the Spanish city with 4867 points holding off Kelly Sotherton from Great Britain by just 15 points after a dramatic battle. In the process the Belgian star, who is also the reigning European outdoor and indoor champion in the High Jump, cleared 1.99m in her specialty, a world all-time best for a combined events competition outdoor or indoors.

“Tia was really great. She gave the example showing that Belgian athletes can compete so well in many disciplines. She has inspired a new generation of athletes.”

“I hope to transfer my experience to children teaching athletics at school at the end of my career”, said Xhonneux.

Xhonneux celebrated his 25th birthday on Sunday (11) with his first major win in the IAAF Combined Events Challenge. “I wore the bib 25. The win on my 25th birthday was written in the sky!”

Apart from hard training schedules and competitions, Xhonneux is a young guy who loves spending his spare time listening to music and watching football matches on television.

“I love hard rock. I have achieved the qualifying standard for Beijing, so now I can go to my favourite hard rock concerts,” said Xhonneux with a smile, “many concerts are held in my home city Brussels in June.” Let’s hope all that loud music doesn’t unsettle his athletic form before China!
        
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF