Andre Niklaus competes in the pole vault, his best event in the decathlon (Getty Images) © Copyright
Like usual in decathlon, the eighth event, pole vault, proved to be decisive and even pushed some of the top athletes completely out of the picture. World leading Bryan Clay (USA) however was not one of those in trouble. Clay, who will brighten his silver medal from Athens 2004 to a golden one here, cleared 5.00m which was exactly the same result he had in the personal best series this season. The American is still on his way to a score around 8900 points and is leading with 7365 points after eight events.
Andrei Krauchanka is now second as expected, but only cleared 5.00m this time when he would have needed to clear 10 or 20cm more. The Belarussian has scored 7049 points at the moment and is already 316 points behind leading Clay who is also clearly better in the next event, javelin, and will only gain more points there.
The real drama in the pole vault concerned athletes competing for the bronze medal. First it was Leonel Suárez (CUB) in trouble with his opening height of 4.30m, a half metre below his best result this season. The Cuban missed his first two tries and it looked really bad before he finally made on third and then cleared 4.50m and 4.70m on first for a really decent result for him. But for American Trey Hardee it was a different tune. Hardee, who has a personal best 5.25m in a decathlon this season (and 5.30m indoors 2006) was unable to clear his opening height 4.70m and was dropped off the medal contention.
Suárez is now in sixth place with 6827 points, 152 points behind Aleksandr Pogorelov (RUS) who is third with 6979 points after a successful 5.00m pole vault result. But the seemingly big point difference between them isn’t that hard to overcome for the Cuban because of his 1500m running later today. The 201cm tall Russian is naturally not at his best in the middle distance running and has a personal best 4:47.00 from 2004 and season’s best 4:53.94 with young Suárez having run 4:16.70 this season. The difference between these two season bests is well more than 200 points and in addition to that the Cuban is also a 70 metre javelin thrower while Pogorelov has thrown his best 65.57m this season.
Reigning Olympic champion Roman Sebrle cleared 4.80m and is at seventh place now with 6823 points. Behind him Andre Niklaus topped the pole vault competition with a 5.20m clearance and is closing in on the Czech with 6753 total points now. Sebrle has to do well in the javelin, which is a good event for him because Niklaus is a much faster 1500m runner and can gain up to 150 points against him there. As expected Oleksiy Kasyanov (UKR) could only clear 4.30m in the pole vault losing hundreds of points against the others and was dropped from second place to fourth with 6874 points now and the Ukrainian will continue going down in the javelin. Maurice Smith (JAM) cleared 4.60m and is in fifth place right behind Kasyanov with 6860 points but he will join the Ukrainian on the way down because his javelin best is only 55.49m from 2007 and 53.54m this season. Kasyanov’s personal best in javelin is 55.84m and most others will throw nearly 65 metres and the best way over 70m.
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF