General News Ratingen, Germany

Garcia and Oeser overnight leaders in Ratingen - IAAF Combined Events Challenge

Cuban Yordani Garcia en route to his first day lead in Ratingen (Iris Hensel)Cuban Yordani Garcia en route to his first day lead in Ratingen (Iris Hensel) © Copyright
Cuban Yordani Garcia and Jennifer Oeser of Germany are the overnight leaders at the 14th edition of the Erdgas Combined Events meeting, the fourth leg of the 2010 IAAF Combined Events Challenge.

Garcia ended the first day with 4182 points ahead of his compatriot Leonel Suarez, last year’s World championships silver medallist, who tallied 4142. Oeser totaled 3721 to lead the Heptathlon after Day 1, ahead of her fellow countrywoman Lilli Schwarzkopf who collected 3634.

The meeting began in chilly conditions, with the temperature at 13 degrees at the start with showers passing over the stadium regularly.

Cubans dominate Day 1 - Decathlon

At the start of the 100m the athletes were, in addition to the chilly conditions, also confronted with a strong head wind. The first heat had a head wind of 0,5 meter, while the second heat was headed by a wind of 1,9 meters. Nevertheless, the 21-year-old Garcia took the victory in the windier heat in 10.89, only 0.01 shy of the mark he set during his personal best 8496 tally in Havana one year ago. He was followed by the young Austrian Dominik Distelberger who clocked 10.99.

Distelberger continued his strong appearance in Long Jump where he leaped 7.64m, only one centimetre from his personal best. Germany’s Simon Hechler also jumped 7.64m, and interestingly both athletes’ second best leaps were identical, with their third farthest needed to determine the winner, which wound up going to Distelberger, who took the look after two events with 1933 points.

The Shot Put ended in a double victory for Cubans, with Garcia topping the competition with a 14.86m effort, followed by his countryman Alexis Chivas with 14.59m. Manwhile, German Rico Freimuth, son of the former decathlete Uwe Freimuth (8792 PB in Potsdam, 1984), reached a personal best 14.23m toss, enough to give him the lead with 2455 points after three events.

The High Jump was a solid domain for the Cuban group as well. Garcia won the event with 2.09m clearance, followed by his countryman Leonel Suarez who topped 2.06m. Alexis Chivas completed the Cuban podium sweep, taking third with a 1.94m best. The victory propelled Garcia to the lead with 3341 points, with Suarez moving into second with 3269. Germany’s Norman Müller moved into third with 3189 points but he’ll have a difficult time breaking the 8000-point barrier to qualify for the European championships.

Distelberger took his second event victory after reaching the line in 47.94 in the 400m. He was followed by Suarez (48.75) with Müller (48.77) third. Garcia clocked 49.93 to finish the day in the lead with 4182 points ahead of Suarez (4142).

Oeser vs. Schwarzkopf - Heptathlon

In the Heptathlon the audience’s primary interest was focused on the battle between Oeser, the World silver medallist a year ago, and her countrywoman Lilli Schwarzkopf. Schwarzkopf had backed off her decision to not compete in the Heptathlon this season. “I feel strong enough to compete”, the 26-year-old said, “and that is why I would like to start here in Ratingen.”

In the opening 100m Hurdles, Oeser set the mark for an interesting two days battle, winning in 13.56 to show that she, despite the cold conditions, is in a good form. Her time was 0.06 faster than at the World Championships last year when she tallied 6493 points. Louise Hazel of Great Britain was second in 13.70 ahead of Schwarzkopf in 13.93.

In the High Jump the German girls kept themselves in balance, with both clearing 1.80m. They were followed by Claudia Rath, who cleared 1.77m, showing potential to break the 6000-point mark, a barrier she just missed in Gotzis three weeks ago.

Schwarzkopf narrowed Oeser’s gap to 25 after the Shot Put thanks to her 14.23m effort, the best of the competition. Oeser was well back with a 13.80m best effort, finishing third overall, behind German Maren Schwerdtner (13.90m).

In the final event of the first day it was 24-year-old Rath who proved the strongest. With her 24.29 winning time, Rath remained in contention to produce her first 6000-point score. Oeser meanwhile was satisfied with her time of 24.63. “I really look forward to better weather conditions,” said Oeser, who brought three jackets to the venue with her. “I prefer 30 degrees.”

With a normally stronger second day for Schwartzkopf, both she and Oeser are on pace for a 6400-point performance. 
Junior competition - Moncton berths on the line

The current world leader in the men’s junior Decathlon with 7.829 points, Kai Kazmirek, has already qualified for the World Junior Championships in Moncton (CAN) and decided not to start in Ratingen. The first day leader is Johannes Hock with 4037 points, well ahead of Sebastian Engel (3665).

In the junior Heptathlon, 16-year-old Sara Gambetta took a clear lead with 3517 points, followed by Christina Kiffe with 3319 points. Carolin Schäfer, the reigning World and European junior champion, is far behind with 3184 points. She needs a strong second day to qualify for Moncton and a chance to defend her title.

Hans van Kuijen for the IAAF

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