Maurice Smith, the day 1 leader in Talence (Hans van Kuijen) © Copyright
General News Talence, France

Smith, Sotherton the overnight leaders in Talence – IAAF World Combined Events Challenge, Day 1

Maurice Smith ended first day of the Décastar IAAF World Combined Events Challenge meeting in Talence as the overnight Decathlon leader with 4328 points, closely followed by Andrei Kravchenko. In the women’s Heptathlon, Kelly Sotherton, who finished fourth at the Olympic Games in Beijing, is in the lead, 69 points ahead of Olympic silver medallist, Hyleas Fountain.

Smith pieces together narrow first day lead - Decathlon

Just two days before the meeting, Decastar organisers where informed that Olympic champion Bryan Clay of the U.S. could not participate due to commercial obligations at home. As also Leonel Suarez did not get permission from the Cuban authorities to start in Talence, the only remaining medallist from Beijing in the field was Kravchenko.

In the first heat of the 100m, the young Ukrainian athlete, Oleksey Kasyanov, who was seventh in Beijing, took the lead with a winning time of 10.69, ahead of Smith with 10.93. They were the only two who clocked below 11.00 seconds.

In the Long Jump Kavchenko also showed here that he is the strongest in this event and with a leap of 7.72m he improved on his performance from Beijing by 11cm. He was followed by  Kasyanov, who leaped 7.49.

After 2 events: 1. Kasyanov 1863 pts, 2. Kravchenko 1815, 3. Smith 1764.

The best shot putters in the field were Smith with a 16.37 toss and Aleksey Drozdov with 15.70. Smith’s mark was enough to take the lead after three events from Kasyanov. Although the local favorite, Romain Barras, was only sixth after three events, he is the only athlete above his PB score after three events. Compared with his 8298 score in Kladno last year he is 1 point ahead.

After 3 events: 1. Smith 2638, 2. Kasyanov 2630, 3. Kravchenko 2554.

With a leap of 2.09 Kravchenko was the best high jumper in the field, followed by Drozdov who leaped 2.06. Smith equaled his personal best of 2.03, a height he cleared already in 2001.

After 4 events: 1. Smith 3469, 2. Kravchenko 3441, 3. Kasyanov 3353.

The winner of the last event of the first day, the 400m, was the same as the winner of the first event, Ukrainian Kasyanov, who reached the line in 48.21. As Smith and Kravchenko did not lose many points in this event, the top three after four events remained the same. After the first day there is a gap of only 21 points between the two first athletes. As both athletes can achieve the second day of about the same score, a close fight on this day can be expected.

After 5 events: 1. Smith 4328, 2. Kravchenko 4307, 3. Kasyanov 4252  

Beijing rerun unfolding - Heptathlon

The women’s event was close to a replay of the Olympic heptathlon as seven of the top eight athletes were at the start this weekend in Talence.

The 100m Hurdles became a show of the USA hurdling specialists, Hyleas Fountain and Gigi Johnson. They both broke the 13 seconds mark, with Fountain first in 12.90, followed by Gigi Johnson in 12.98, who missed an Olympic appearance after she finished fourth at the US trials in Eugene. Fountain’s winning time was an improvement of the 20-yearold stadium record set by Liliana Nastase.

In the High Jump Fountain improved upon her result from Beijing by four centimetres with a 1.85m leap. She was followed by Sotherton, Anna Boganova, Anne Melnychenko and Marie Collonvillé, who all scaled 1.82. The Olympic bronze medallist, Tatyana Chernova, who has a PB of 1.87 in this event, did only cleared 1.70 and lost a lot of points to her opponents. She dropped in the intermediate standings to 12th position.

After 2 events: 1. Fountain 2181, 2. Sotherton 2084, 3. Bogdanova 2046 

Olympic champion Nataliya Dobrynska showed her strength again in the Shot Put. This time her best effort was 16.35, almost two metres ahead of Sotherton, who had her best ever result in this event in a Heptathlon. Fountain had a very poor result of 12.10, losing more than 100 points compared with her result in Beijing. Dobrynska improved from sixth place after two events to first place after Shot Put.

After 3 events: 1. Dobrynska 2933, 2. Sotherton 2909, 3. Fountain 2849

In the 200m the winning time in the third heat was supported by a wind of 3.5 m/s. Sotherton and Karolina Tyminska crossed the finish line in this heat in the same time of 23.46, followed by Fountain in 23.55. From the Olympic participants only Sotherton could improve her first day result from Beijing. Taking into consideration her weak Long Jump result in Beijing she is still able to improve her best Heptathlon record from 2005.

After 4 events: 1. Sotherton 3942, 2. Fountain 3873, 3. Dobrynska 3833

Overall titles still on the line

The Decastar meeting is the last meeting of the IAAF World Combined Event Challenge 2008. Most of the participants use this meeting also to make their third score for this prestigious award.

In the men’s competition Cuban Leonel Suarez is the leader before this last scoring meeting, but since he isn’t participating in Talence he will not improve on his result of 25,344 points. The most important candidate for the 2008 award is Kravchenko. He needs a score of 8209 points to pass the Cuban to win the Challenge. After five events he is well in competition to achieve this goal.

In the women’s competition the actual leaders Lilli Schwarzkopf and Jennifer Oeser have finished their season already after Beijing. Also the overnight leader of Talence, Sotherton, will not be classified in this year’s ranking as she competed in only meeting in 2008. Most important candidates to win the award is Fountain, but Chernova is also a candidate. However to win she needs a stronger second day in Talence.

Hans van Kuijen for the IAAF

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