The favourite Jennifer Oeser of Germany is in the lead in the Heptathlon after day one of the Erdgas Mehrkampf Meeting in Ratingen, part of the IAAF World Combined Events Challenge 2007.
She collected 3776 points from her four events on Saturday (16). But it is all a different story in the Decathlon. Here Jacob Minah (Germany) took the lead and left behind a group of fellow countrymen that were thought to be stronger than him. That might still change on the second day, but he has a promising figure of 4290 points after day one.
The overall lead in the World Combined Events Challenge will probably change tomorrow and Oeser seems to be the strong favourite to take the lead. For the German athletes this is the major qualifying event for the World Championships in Osaka, which begin on 25th August. While André Niklaus cannot compete due to muscle problems he will probably still be nominated for the World Championshhips since he had a convincing comeback in Götzis and is the best German so far this season with 8340 points. But it will be a tough fight for the tickets tomorrow.
Four PBs for Minah on first day
In mixed weather conditions the 25-year-old Minah had a great day. He achieved four personal bests in the five events. So far he has a personal best of 7759 points from Götzis in May, where he placed 13th. But compared to the meeting at the end of May in Austria he was now was stronger in every event in Ratingen.
Minah opened the competition with 10.69 in the 100m (10.80 in Götzis), then continued with 7.53m in the Long Jump (7.13 in Götzis), 13.54 in the Shot Put (13.42), a 1.98 leap in the High Jump (1.94) and 47.53 in the 400m (47.75). Having placed fifth in the European Indoor Championships in Birmingham in March he now leads in Ratingen. But the margin is a small one.
His fellow countrymen Arthur Abele (4230) and Norman Müller (4172) will definitely be in for a challenge tomorrow. And they are both expected to have a stronger second day than Minah. Abele achieved 10.84, 7.42, 13.43, 2.04 and 48.51 while Müller did 10.89, 7.40, 14.44, 1.86 and 47.30. Belgium’s Francois Gourmet is fourth with 4147 points from 10.63, 7.20, 13.89, 1.89 and 47.93. Italy’s William Frullani sustained an injury in the 100m and had to end the competition.
Should there be a German winner tomorrow who breaks the qualifying standard of 8000 points then he will get automatic selection for Osaka. So there is a lot on stake in Ratingen. But there was bad luck for Pascal Behrenbruch, who was supposed to be one of the big favourites after Niklaus had to cancel. Due to a probable infection he had a disappointing day with 3934 points and is in seventh position. In Götzis he had achieved a personal best of 8199 points.
Oeser on cruise control
In the women’s event it looks as if Oeser will confirm her world class performance from Götzis, where she had finished third. The 23-year-old, who had surprised with a fourth place at the European Championships in Gothenburg last year, is well on her way to winning and gaining automatic qualification for Osaka.
Oeser collected her 3776 points from 13.58 seconds in the 100m Hurdles, 1.82m in the High Jump, 13.85m in the Shot Put and 24.32 seconds in the 200m. She achieved very similar results as in Götzis with the exception of the 200m where she was clearly faster in Ratingen (24.75 in Götzis). So she might be in for a personal best, which she had missed in Götzis by just ten points. At the Europeans last year she had 6376 points.
While one German ticket for Osaka seems to be reserved it will get very close for the other two. After the first day Maren Schwerdtner was second with 3683 points (13.58, 1.73, 14.03 and 24.25). She caused a big surprise with this performance but one has to see if she is able to keep going on day two.
While Belgium’s Sara Aerts takes third at the break with 3651 points (13.44, 1.73, 13.57 and 24.47) there are more German athletes who could move up tomorrow in the fight for the Osaka tickets: Sonja Kesselschläger is in fourth position with 3627 points while strong long jumpers Julia Mächtig (6th with 3572) and Lilli Schwarzkopf (7th with 3547) are not far away. In between them is Kylie Wheeler (Australia) in fifth with 3600 points.
Jörg Wenig for the IAAF (with assistance from Gustav Schwenk)