Report 16 September 2012 – Talence, France

Kasyanov and Skujyte the overnight leaders in Talence – IAAF Combined Events Challenge - Day 1 REPORT

Oleksey Kasyanov in Talence (Jacques Lavie)Oleksey Kasyanov in Talence (Jacques Lavie) © Copyright
Talence, FranceOleksey Kasyanov and Austra Skujyte were leaders after the first day of action at the the Decastar combined events competition, in Talence, France.

Kasyanov led the Decathlon with 4301 points while Skujyte collected 3756 to lead the Heptathlon in this year’s final competition of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge.

With the 36th edition of this meeting the international combined events 2012 season comes to an end. And it is clear that the athletes crave for a well deserved holiday after a long season highlighted with the Olympic Games in London.

Nevertheless the organisers in Talence, a small city in the Bordeaux region in the southwest of France, managed to get an interesting field at the start, especially in the women’s Heptathlon where the numbers two through six from the Olympic Heptathlon competed in the "Stade the Thouars". They were supported by a well-filled stadium, with enthusiastic public under nice weather conditions.

Decathlon – wide open competition

In the first heat of the 100m triple jumper Benjamin Compaore (FRA) took the victory. Clocking 10.77, the number six of that event in London was well ahead of his fellow competitors in that heat. Yet, it was not enough to take the victory in the event. In the second heat Ukrainian Kasyanov reached the finish line in 10.66, which gave him the first Louis d’Or, the prize given by organisers to the individual winners of each event.

Also in the second event of the day the two best athletes in 100m were ahead in the High Jump. Kasyanov produced a leap of 7.54m, but the French jumping specialist produced 7.87m on his third attempt, only one centimetre from his personnel best set in 2008. After two events Compaore had totaled 1939 points, 56 points more than the European championships runner-up. Dutchman Eelco Sintnicolaas was third, already 189 points back.

Belgium Hans van Alphen, fourth at the Olympic Games in London, took the victory in the third event. He was the only athlete who passed the fifteen-metre mark in the Shot Put with 15.29m. As Compaore produced only an 11.24m best he fell back to third position. The leader after three events was Kasyanov, followed by van Alphen, who was 143 points back.

In the fourth event of the day three young athletes took the attention of the audience. Sebastian Helcelet (CZE) and Kevin Mayer are both 20-years-old, while German Kai Kazmirek is only 21. The three athletes, who are expected to be among the new generation in the Decathlon, were the only athletes who cleared 2.00m in the High Jump. Helcelet and Mayer topped 2.07m, while Kazmirek managed 2.04m. Compaore, who started at 1.71m, finally jumped over 1.98m.

The last event of the day went to German Kai Kazmirek in 47.56. Second was Benjamin Compaore, who clocked 48.69 in his first ever 400m race. The Frenchman totaled 4160 points after day one, which placed him fourth after van Alphen (4198) and Helcelet (4184). Kasyanov is the overnight leader with 4301 points, but he needs a strong second day to secure the victory as several athletes are known as better second day performers.

Van Alphen, last year’s winner, said, "It was a long and hard competition year and we all look forward to a holiday. Nevertheless this meeting in Talence has such a special attitude that I love to come here. Besides this, a victory in the IAAF Combined Events Challenge is another important trophy to add on my palmares."

Heptathlon – Scharzkopf injured, Chernova in good position

Eight athletes stood at the start of the first event of the Heptathlon, but already after the first hurdle of the second heat the field was reduced to seven. A serious Achilles tendond injury forced Olympic silver medalist Lilli Schwarzkopf out just after the first hurdle. It is certain that the 29-year-old German will need a long recovery from this injury.

Local favorite and 2012 European champion Antoinette Nana Djimou took the victory in this event in 13.43, ahead of Ukrainian Hanna Melnychenko (13.47).

The next two events went to Lithuanian Austra Skujyte. In the High Jump she was the only athlete that topped 1.85m, followed by three who cleared 1.82m: Ukrainians Melnychenko and Lyudmyla Yosypenko and Russian Tatyana Chernova. In the Shot Put Skujyte was more than 2.5 metres ahead of the other competitors, giving her an advantage of 176 points over Melnychenko after three events.

An interesting name in this small field is double Olympic Javelin Throw champion Barbora Spotakova of The Czech Republic, who took the victory in the first heat of the 200m. Although she is currently last after the first day everybody is looking forward to what she will do on the second day when her special discipline will be on the programme.

The victory in the last event of the day went to Yosypenko, the European championships runner-up who was fourth in the Olympic Heptathlon. With 24.32 she was 0.07 ahead of her compatriot Melnychenko. She minimized the gap with Skujte to only 25 points. Yet, the favorite for the victory is still Chernova, who is known as the best second day athlete in the field. The gap with the leader is only 57 points, which seems not too difficult for the Russian to close.

Hans van Kuijen for the IAAF

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