Decathlon World record holder Roman Sebrle showed this weekend that he had fully recovered from the mid-season injury which stopped him from training for some weeks and forced him to withdraw from Götzis last week after just four events. The reigning Olympic champion from Czech Republic notched up a Decathlon win at the Arles International meeting, which is part of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge 2006.
Sebrle won with a total score of 8333 points, with Finland’s Jaakko Ojaniemi second on 8111, ahead of last Chinese National Games winner Qi Haifeng (7977 points).
Jessica Zelinka from Canada, like Sebrle the overnight leader, went on to win the women’s Heptathlon. Fourth at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Zelinka scored a total of 6314 points to win here in Arles. Janice Josephs from South Africa, who was fourth after day one, moved up into runner-up position with 6248 beating Ukraine’s Hanna Melnychenko who totalled 6055 in her third heptathlon of the year. Viktoryija Zemaytite from Lithuania, second after the first day, faded into fourth place with 6021 points.
The wind was still strong but calmed during the 110 metres Hurdles where Tunisia’s Hamdi Dhouibi, aided by a +3.0 m/s tailwind (which is legal for statistical purposes in combined events), ran the fastest time of 14.05 (968 points) and overhauled Sebrle (second with 14.30) in the overall standing by just three points (5231 to 5228).
Sebrle bounced back by winning the Discus Throw with 49.12m (852) and returned to the lead with 6080. The overall ranking was shaken up further as Ojaniemi regained second place by throwing the Discus to 45.99m. Joseph Karas from Czech Republic, who was sixth after the 110 metres Hurdles, produced a solid 47.97 which moved him up into third place over Qi Haifeng (46.17).
Dhouibi lost valuable points after a lowly 33.73m throw, fading into fifth place, but improved to fourth after clearing the best height of 4.80m in the Pole Vault which was held in very difficult wind conditions.
Sebrle’ s leading position was no longer threatened after he cleared 4.70m in the Pole Vault and then speared 63.06m in the Javelin Throw. Not surprisingly the Javelin event featured a good performance by Finn Ojaniemi (64.69m - 809) who went into second place behind Sebrle (7683 to 7434). Qi Haifeng backed up his third place by landing his implement at 58.88m. The Chinese scored 7291 points to Dhouibi’s 7148 points with just one event remaining: the 1500 metres.
The final event of the Arles weekend did not produce any significant changes to the overall standing.
“Without the wind I feel that I could have scored 70 points more,“ said Sebrle. “But I am happy. Every event was ok. During the first day I was scared and I tried to run easily. The second day was better. In some events I was helped by the wind but in others wind affected my performances. I am satisfied that I have finished injury-free and I have scored the qualifying standard for the European Championships. In my heart I feel disappointed that I did not finish in Götzis last week but I cannot complain. Now I am looking to Gothenburg. Before that I could also be in Ratingen but it is not decided yet. As for my participation in Talence let’s see what happens in Gothenburg,” concluded Sebrle.
Ojaniemi was delighted with his runner-up spot. “I am happy with my performances in the Discus and the Javelin. Perhaps I could do better in the running events but I am very satisfied. This year I want to score 8300 points.”
Jessica Zelinka improved her PB in the Long Jump by 4 centimetres to 6.23m (thanks to a tailwind of + 2.5 m/s). The tailwind increased its speed to + 8.8 m/s helping Ukraine’s Hanna Melnychenko to 6.51m which moved her up into second position just 36 points behind the Canadian.
South Africa’s Janice Joseph, who finished the first day in fourth position, also began the second day on a high note with a wind-assisted 6.54 (+4.3 m/s) overhauling Zemaytite for third place (4632 to 4570 points).
Melnychenko lost a podium position after a lowly 35.30m in the Javelin and was dropped by Zemaytite who threw the Javelin out to 40.83 metres. Joseph performed well in the penultimate event with a good 44.42m and backed up her second place behind Zelinka who threw 44.66m.
With the 800m not changing the leaders, Zelinka ended up her second Heptathlon in seven days with a total of 6314 points.
“I was physically prepared for this meeting just one week after Götzis but mentally I was tired. I am very pleased with my PBs in the Javelin and the Long Jump. Without big international championships this summer the only important competition in the next few weeks is the Canadian championship”, said Zelinka, a student at the University of Communication and Culture in her home city of Calgary.
Josephs said about her second place: “I got through two tough days of competitions. Yesterday the head wind in the High Jump was very strong. Today I started very well but I again struggled with the wind. After this competition I will take part in the African Games in Mauritius.”
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
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