France’s Romain Barras and Russia’s Tatyana Chernova are the overall winners of the 2010 IAAF Combined Events Challenge and will each receive a payment of $30,000 from the IAAF.
After meetings in Europe, America, Africa, Australia and Asia, the 2010 IAAF Combined Events Challenge concluded recently in the Chinese city of Guangzhou with the competitions of the Asian Games.
2010 was the 13th successive year of the Combined Events Challenge, and, as well as the five individual permit meetings (Desenzano, Götzis, Kladno, Ratingen and Talence), this season the series included the European Championships in Barcelona, Commonwealth Games in Delhi, Asian Games in Guangzhou, African Championships in Nairobi, and Open Oceania Championships in Australia, European Cup meetings and the USA Championships.
The Challenge offers a total of US$202,000 in Prize Money paid by the IAAF which is distributed to both the top-8 men and women as follows: 1st $30,000, 2nd $20,000, 3rd $15,000, 4th $10,000, 5th $8000, 6th $7000, 7th $6000, 8th $5000.
Athletes had to complete three competitions to be eligible to contend for the overall prize money, and in 2010 fifteen male athletes and twenty women made the grade. In total 308 athletes completed at least one Decathlon or Heptathlon.
Men – DECATHLON
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The overall winner of the men’s challenge was the French athlete Romain Barras. The 2010 European champion in the Decathlon took the overall victory (25,063pts). He completed four Decathlons counting for the 2010 Challenge, the first one in Götzis, where he scored 8297 points for a second place, followed with a victory in the European cup Super League in Tallinn (8313 points) and his season’s highlight with the European championship in Barcelona (8453 points).
His last appearance was at the Decastar meeting for his home crowd in Talence, where he totaled 8,180 points (3rd position). Not enough for a further improvement of his earlier achieved total.
Barras is the successor to last year’s winner Trey Hardee and other illustrious names such as 4 times winner Roman Sebrle (CZE), Olympic 2000 champion, Erki Nool (EST) - 2 times winner, former World record holder Tomas Dvorak – also 2 times winner, and Tom Pappas (USA), Dmitriy Karpov (KAZ) and Andrei Krauchanka (BLR).
Second place in 2010 was taken by Cuba’s Leonel Suarez with 24,857 points. Without any international championship in 2010 for the Cuban athletes Suarez focused on participating in the European meetings. In Desenzano he scored 8112 points (2nd), followed with 8286 points in Götzis (3rd) and 8243 points in Ratingen (2nd). He secured the second position in the 2010 Challenge with a victory in Talence with 8328 points, enough the keep Jake Arnold (USA) from this spot.
Arnold did not start in Talence. As he had already competed in four decathlons during the 2010 season, including a winning USA-title, he gambled that his score of 24,627 points would be enough for the third position in the overall standings of the Challenge. The young Dutchman, Eelco Sintnicolaas, who was the silver medallist at the European champion in Barcelona, gave it a try in Talence, but with his score of 8018 points in the Bordeaux wine region, he was 14 points short to pass the USA champion.
Women – HEPTATHLON
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The decision who would win in the women’s event was clear after the meeting in Talence. Russia’s Tatyana Chernova took the victory in the Decastar meeting in Talence with 6453 points. After her disappointing fourth place at the European championships in Barcelona (6512 points) and the second position, earlier this year in Götzis (6572 points), her total was enough for a total score of 19,537 points and to take the victory in the Heptathlon of the 2010 IAAF Combined Events Challenge.
As in 2009 the second position was for the German Jennifer Oeser, who was fourth in Götzis (6193 points) and took the victory in Ratingen with 6427 points. With a personnel best score of 6683 points in Barcelona she totaled 19,303 points for the Challenge score.
Although Natalya Dobrynska’s score of 6778 points at the European championships was a superb personal best she had already lost too many points in her first appearance of 2010. In the Austrian city of Götzis she was not ready yet for a top performance and with a seventh position and only 6023 points she lost too much to close the gap in her third meeting in Talence. With a score of 6309 points she was 427 points short to retain her IAAF Combined Events Challenge title from 2009.
Briton’s Jennifer Ennis took two victories in meetings counting for the IAAF Combined Events Challenge. At the season’s start she proved already to be in strong condition. Despite the miserable weather conditions on the second day in Götzis she scored a winning 6689 points, followed by 6823 points at the European championships in Barcelona. Although a score of 6025 points would have been enough to win the 2010 Challenge she decided not to start in Talence, or the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Ennis still does not want to risk further injuries, as her long absence during 2008 and the beginning of 2009 is still on her mind as she focuses on her primary goal, which is the Olympic title 2012 in her home country.
Hans van Kuijen for the IAAF