Roman Sebrle and Bryan Clay watch the competition in Kladno after the pair was knocked out by injury in the 100m (Pavel Gryc) © Copyright
General News 16 June 2010 – Kladno, Czech Republic

Kasyanov and Melnychenko the overnight leaders in Kladno, injuries knock out Clay and Sebrle – IAAF Combined Events Challenge

Kladno, Czech RepublicUkrainians hold firstday leads in both the Decathlon and Heptathlon competitions at the TNT-Fortunate Combined Events competition in Kladno, Czech Republic.  The meeting is the third installment of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge.

Standing atop the Decathlon point totals after the first day is Oleksiy Kasyanov with 4451 points, with an advantage of 76 points over Jamie Adjetey-Nelson of Canada.  Forging a lead in the first event of the day, the 100m, the fourth placer in last year’s Berlin World Championships relinquished the overall top spot only once during the session—and that by only two points after the High Jump.  Otherwise, he was always in control. 

The Heptathlon midway leader is Hanna Melnychenko with 3666 points, a 59-point bulge over Eliska Klucinova of the Czech Republic.  Melnychenko moved to the front after the day’s second event, the High Jump, and never surrendered her lead after that.  

Kasyanov cruises first day - Decathlon

With unfortunate injuries besetting Olympic champion Bryan Clay and world-record holder Roman Sebrle in the opening event – Clay the victim of a groin injury and Sebrle a tender hamstring giving way - the Decathlon competition assumed an unexpected look right from the beginning.

Kasyanov emerged from the 100m with an early overall lead after his 10.69 sprint for 931 points.  Running in the same heat was Adjetey-Nelson, who posted a 10.76 and garnered 915, just ahead of Maurice Smith of Jamaica and 19-year-old Czech Jaroslav Hedvicak, the former world youth silver medallist, both with 10.79 and 908 points. 

Others slipping under eleven seconds were Lithuania’s Darius Draudvila (10.87), current World junior silver winner Eduard Mihan of Belarus (10.94), American Jake Arnold (PB 10.99) and Czech Pavel Baar (10.99).  

Kasyanov and Adjetey-Nelson also held their top two positions after the Long Jump, in which they posted the two best efforts of the day.  The Ukrainian’s 7.79m led the field and gave him a 1938 total after two events.  The Canadian followed with 1877 after a 7.61m leap.  Moving into third with a 7.40m jump was Mihan at 1784, just five points ahead of fourth-place Hedvicak whose 1779 total resulted from a 7.24m. A notable withdrawal came after the long jump as Kazakhstan’s Dmitriy Karpov, still trying to find his form of recent years, jumped only 6.61m which left him in twentieth place when combined with his 11.18 in the 100. 

Except for the top two places, the Shot Put event did some major scrambling of positions.  Aleksey Drozdov of Russia was the event winner with 15.95m, and his 2558 aggregate moved him from ninth into third, one point ahead of Smith with 2557, whose 15.15m was almost two metres below his normal range.  Draudvila stayed just a breath away, in fifth with 2553, on the strength of his 15.03m effort.  Meanwhile, Kasyanov held to a firm overall lead with 2742 after a 15.24m put, as Adjetey-Nelson moved marginally closer in second at 2660 as a result of his 14.89m throw. 

Moving to the High Jump, the Canadian equaled his PB of 2.09m which, combined with Kasyanov’s 2.00m, flipped the positions of the two leading decathletes after the fourth event.  With 3547, Adjetey-Nelson held a razor-thin two-point advantage over Kasyanov’s 3545 with only the 400m remaining on the first day.  Drozdov also equalled his PB with 2.12m for the best height of the day, and he solidified his third-place position at 3473.  Draudvila moved ahead of Smith, thanks to a 2.00m jump compared with the Jamaican’s 1.94m, as the two accumulated 3356 and 3306, respectively.  Notable among the others were Marcin Drozdz of Poland at 2.09m, and young Czech Adam Nejedly whose PB 2.06m moved him into eighth overall. 

A very determined Kasyanov attacked the 400m to close the first day, and his 48.07 ended up as the top time of the session. It was enough to send the Ukrainian back into the lead with 4451 points over Adjetey-Nelson, who ran 49.70 and tallied 4375 for the first five events.  With a 48.69 one-lap time, Draudvila moved into third with 4232 over Drozdov as the Russian produced only a sluggish 51.32 to tally 4228.  With the day’s second-fastest time of 48.25, Smith held fifth but kept his top-three chances alive by staying within range at 4203.

For Clay and Sebrle, remainder of season uncertain

But it was the early departures of Clay and Sebrle that captured most of the attention on day 1 in Kladno.

After posting a world-leading 8483 just over two weeks ago in Götzis, Clay was hoping to have one more good score before the US Championships next week.  Instead, he and Sebrle - the meeting's marquee athletes - became the first athletes not to finish this weekend.

"It's just crazy that the top two competitors would not survive this first event," said Clay after returning from a physiotherapy session. 

The American came out of the blocks well in the 100 metres and covered the first half of the race normally before the injury occurred.  He shut down immediately and jogged across the finish line in 14.05.

"I hit a hurdle with my trailing leg in Götzis. I thought at the time there was a little strain.  But the second day doesn't require much speed after that, so I was able to finish without a problem," he continued.  "Because of the quick turnaround between decathlons, I didn't test the leg in practice, but everything pointed to my condition being OK."

Sebrle had been well aware of his hamstring condition in the run-up to the Kladno competition, and he had even dropped out of the second day at Götzis as a precaution.  The injury is now more of an immediate concern for the Czech than for the American as Sebrle is looking ahead to the European Championships in six weeks' time and a chance at an unprecedented third gold medal in the decathlon.  For Clay, there was never an important high-level competition on his outdoor schedule this season.

"Unlike Bryan's situation, I had known for a long time that I was in fragile condition.  I could feel it every day in my training.  I could have probably run 11 or 12 seconds today, but it would have meant risking the rest of this season, which includes the European Championships.  Even as it is, I'm going to have to hope my Federation will grant me a 'wild card' selection, and then I'll have also hope for the best as I try to recover from this physical problem."

Returning to Europe about a week ago, Clay and his coach had been staying at the home of world-record holder Roman Sebrle in the western section of Prague, not far from the Kladno meeting site.  "Bryan was well-rested from the trip, and was waking up normally without jet-lag," Clay's coach Kevin Reid explained.  "The training sessions were normal and would not have predicted this injury."

Clay's immediate plans are uncertain.  "I've got to be careful this year," he admitted, "because I've got to put up some really big marks the next two seasons.  My goal is to be on the Olympic podium again in London," he said, adding that in so doing, he would be the first athlete to win a decathlon medal in three Olympic Games.

Melnychenko consistent - Heptathlon

Fortunately, the Heptathlon competition proceeded without the injuries which detracted from the men’s event. Jana Koresova of the host country led the way in the 100m Hurdles with a 13.59 and captured 1037 points.  Also running in the same heat was Hanna Melnychenko of Ukraine, whose 13.71 for 1020 points stood in second place ahead of the 13.83 and 1003 points of France’s Amandine Constantin.  Canada’s Susan Coltman and Lyudmyla Yosypenko of Ukraine were close behind with 13.84 and 1001 points to round out the top five. 

Melnychenko, the sixth-place finisher at last season’s Berlin World Championships but far back in the final standings at Götzis two weeks ago, moved solidly to the lead after the High Jump.  Her 1.84m led all competitors for 1029 points, producing a 2049 total and a 95-point advantage over Yosypenko at 1954 after a 1.78m leap.  Marina Goncharova of Russia also used a 1.78m to move into a close position behind Yosypenko with 1947, just ahead of Czech Eliska Klucinova at 1945 after a 1.81m performance. 

In the Shot Put, Klucinova managed to dent Melnychenko’s big lead with her 13.83m toss.  With this effort - the second-best of the competition - juxtaposed with the Ukrainian’s sub-par 12.67m, the Czech amassed 2728 to move within 27 points of Melnychenko’s leading 2755.  Goncharova held third at this point with a 13.42m throw for a three-event total of 2702, as Yosypenko’s 12.50m dropped her into fourth at 2648. The biggest upward move of the event came as a result of Karolina Tyminska’s field-leading 14.37m.  The Polish athlete, seventh in the Beijing Heptathlon, catapulted from twelfth to fifth at 2613, as her best events are ones still remaining in the programme.         

Melnychenko increased her lead in the first day’s final event, the 200m, as her 24.74 for a 3666 total moved her to a 59-point advantage over Klucinova, who slid back despite running close to her PB with 25.08 to close out the afternoon with 3607.  As expected, Tyminska had the best time of the day with 24.33, and it was enough to elevate her from fifth to third with 3562, just five points ahead of Yosypenko (3557 after running 24.76) and 14 points in front of Goncharova (3548 after a 25.45 half-lap).   

Junior Decathlon

On a day when no other competitor bettered him in any event, Adam Sebastian Helcelet amassed a formidable lead with 4028 points in the junior division (including 6kg shot put).  The first day saw PBs from the Tomas Dvorak-coached athlete in the Long Jump (6.94m), Shot Put (15.37m) and 400m (49.31). Michal Stefek stands in second with a first-day total of 3775. 

Click here for full results

Ed Gordon for the IAAF