Maurice Smith (JAM) - Javelin Throw Decathlon (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Götzis , Austria

Smith vs Karpov; Ennis vs Blonska in Götzis - IAAF Combined Events Challenge

The 34th edition of the Hypo Meeting in Götzis, the second leg of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge 2008, looks set to live up to the tradition of the best known Decathlon and Heptathlon meeting in the world, promising as usual great results and the possible emergence of new names.

MEN
 
The Decathlon should be a two-man battle between Osaka World Championship silver medallist Maurice Smith from Jamaica and Olympic and World bronze medallist Dimitry Karpov from Kazakhistan.
 
Smith will open his 2008 campaign after a successful 2007 season crowned by his Osaka performance when he was overhauled by World record holder Sebrle for the gold after the Czech speared to a javelin PB of 71.18 to snatch the title by just 32 points.

Karpov, the World bronze medallist in 2003 and 2007 and 2004 Olympic third placer with his Asian record of 8725 points, recently tested his form in some individual events during the Italian leg of the IAAF Challenge in Desenzano del Garda (10 / 11 May). Karpov stayed in the Italian town on Lake Garda Lake specially to prepare for Götzis.

The Hypo Meeting will also serve as an Olympic trial competition for the Russian Federation. Favourites for the three tickets to Bejing are Aleksey Drozdov (European bronze medallist in Gothenburg 2006), reigning World junior champion Arkady Vasilyev and Aleksey Sysoyev (sixth in Osaka).

The German Federation has also chosen Götzis as one of its two selection competitions for the Olympic Games. The three top Germans who will make the team for Beijing will be selected based on the results from Götzis and the Ratingen Combined Events meeting on 21-22 June. This weekend the German team will be led by 2006 World Indoor champion André Niklaus who finished fifth last year in Götzis with his PB of 8340 points, Pascal Behrenbruch (fifth at the European Championships in Gothenburg) and Artur Abele, ninth in Osaka last year.

A rising star who could emerge at this annual “mecca of combined events” could be former World Youth champion and World Junior silver medallist Yordani Garcia of Cuba who finished eighth at the World Championships in Osaka with 8257 points when still a junior.

WOMEN

Carolina Klüft’s decision to compete in the Long and Triple Jump will make the Heptathlon wide open this summer. British athletics fans hope that this could bring Olympic glory eight years after Denise Lewis’ triumph in Sydney. British star Jessica Ennis, who finished fourth in Osaka last summer, will begin her summer campaign in what promises to be another exciting year for British heptathletes.
 
Ennis, European Under 23 Athlete of the Year in 2007, sensationally improved her PB to 6469 points to finish just 41 points behind compatriot Kelly Sotherton in Osaka. Ennis, who was able to clear 1.95 in the High Jump equalling the British record, has recently shown her improvement spearing the javelin to a new event PB of 43.08 in Loughborough two weeks ago. Ennis took some advice from former international javelin thrower Mick Hill to improve in what is regarded as her weakest event.

Ennis will take on 2007 World championships silver medallist Lyudmila Blonska from Ukraine who improved her national record to 6820 points in Osaka. Ukraine will be also represented by 2004 World Indoor silver medallist Nataliya Dobrynska. Reigning Olympic silver medallist Austra Skujte from Lithuania will be another major contender for the podium.

The strong Russian team battling for three berths for Bejing will be formed by Valencia World Indoor bronze medallist Anna Bogdanova, reigning World junior champion Tatyana Chernova and 2006 world indoor bronze medallist Olga Levenkova.

Lilli Schwarzkopf and Jennifer Oeser, respectively third and fourth at the European Championships in Gothenburg in 2006, will carry the major hopes for Germany.
        
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF 

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