Romain Barras (l), Maurice Smith and Andrei Kravchenko in the hurdles in Talence (Hans van Kuijen) © Copyright
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Kravchenko and Fountain the winners in Talence - IAAF World Combined Events Challenge

Talence, FranceWith strong second day performances, Andrei Kravchenko from Belarus and American Hyleas Fountain won the Decathlon and Heptathlon respecttively at the Decastar Meeting in Talence on Sunday.

Solid across the board, Kravchenko cruise - Decathlon

Kravchenko started the second day with a solid 14.05 performance in the 110m Hurdles. It was his best performance this year in this event.

“I am relieved with this performance, as I felt an upcoming cramp in yesterday’s 400 metres,” he said. “Now I can look forward to hopefully a good second day.” 

As overnight leader Maurice Smith did not lose too much from his opponent he remained the leader after six events, although only 3 points ahead of Kravchenko.
After 6 events: 1. Smith 5278, 2. Kravchenko 5275, 3. Kasyanov 5137

The Discus Throw is traditionally one of Smith’s strongest events and again he did not fail. In Talence his winning performance was a distance of 51.34m, which is becoming an average throw for him. After this event Aleksandr Pogorelov entered the top three in the intermediate standings with a discus throw of 49.45m.
After 7 events: 1. Smith 6176, 2. Kravchenko 5971,  3. Pogorelov 5859

Although for Kravchenko his strongest events were still to come and the backlog with Smith was within normal margins, the Belarussian looked nervous as the Pole Vault was set to begin. The poles of all the Eastern European athletes were left behind at the airport in Moscow. No solution seemed to be available until their colleagues Romain Barras and Roland Schwarzl offered them the use their poles. As they said: “It might cost us our bonus and the risk that our poles can be broken, but  we cannot accept that this is the end of the competition for them.”

Barras showed to be the strongest in this event with a height of 5.05m. With a borrowed pole, Kravchenko jumped 4.95. It was not yet enough to take the lead, but the prospect for the rest of the competition became as sunny as the weather for him during the remained of second day of the competition.
After 8 events: 1. Smith 6922, 2. Kravchenko 6866, 3. Pogorelov 6693

With a javelin throw of 61.45m Kravchenko pushed himself for the first time in this competition to the top of the leaderboard. The event winner was Pogorelov with a distance of 64.94m, which reinforced his No. 3 position after nine events.
After 9 events: 1. Kravchenko 7626, 2. Smith 7532, 3. Pogorelov 7505

In the 1500m the victory went to Guillaume Barras, the younger brother of Romain. He forced himself to a PB helping him to pass for the first time in his career the the 7500 point mark. Kravchenko followed Smith the entire race securing that he would keep the gap with his opponent.

Said Kravchenko, “It was a hard season, but the crowd helped me here to stay on track. I will surely come back.”
End result: 1. Kravchenko 8312, 2. Smith 8220, 3. Barras 8172

Day two belonged to Fountain - Heptathlon

The overnight leader in the Heptathlon, Kelly Sotherton, could not hold this position. After a first foul jump in the Long Jump she continued with a 6.16m leap with her second followed by a third attempt of 6.21m. This is far from her possibilities in this event and taking into consideration that her weakest event, the Javelin Throw, still had to come her possibilities to win this year’s Decastar Heptathlon were in danger. Additionally, the distances from Hyleas Fountain (6.52) and Natalya Dobrynska (6.35) were below their abilities, the damage for Sotherton was limited.
After 5 events: 1. Fountain 4887, 2. Sotherton 4857, 3. Dobrynska 4792

The sixth event was, as expected, a strong one for Tatyana Chernova, with a Javelin Throw of 50.23m, which moved her to the fourth. position. As Dobrynska’s  throw was seven meters further that Sotherton’s she passed her in the intermediate standings. With only one event to go the gap to be covered by the British athlete was 121 points, or 8.5 seconds in the 800m versus Fountain, and 5 seconds versus Dobrynska.
After 6 events: 1. Fountain 5585, 2.Dobrynska 5535, 3. Sotherton 5464

Immediately after the start of the 800m Karolina Tyminska and Chernova took the lead, followed by Sotherton. This trio set the pace and at the end it was Tyminska who crossed the line before Sotherton in 2:09.28. Fountain was pushed to a personal best time of 2:15.32 to maintain her position to take the overall win. Dobrynska came in with a personal best as well in this last event, but it was not enough to keep Sotherton from the second position.

“I was disappointed after the long jump, but Hyleas was the stronger athlete during this weekend and she deserved to win here,” Sotherton said. “My season is not finished yet. I was member of the 4x400m Relay team in Beijing and next week I will run a 400m in Shanghai”.
Final result: 1. Fountain 6473, 2. Sotherton 6439, 3.Dobrynska 6429

11 heptathletes passed the 6000 points mark, for the first time in Talence since 1988. Marie Collonvillé of France broke the 6000 point barrier for the 30th. time in her career.

Hans van Kuijen for the IAAF

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