Decathlon World record holder Roman Sebrle bounced back from injury to lead day one of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge meeting in Arles in Southern France, yesterday (3). The Women’s Heptathlon is topped by Jessica Zelinka of Canada overnight.
The competition was affected by very strong wind which blew at a speed between +3.9 m/s and +8.0 m/s during men 100 metres sprint, and the women 100 metres hurdles which makes the results illegal for statistical purposes! The swirling wind reached the peak of +9.7 m/s during the men’s Long Jump.
Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic decided to make the trip to Arles after being forced to drop out of the after Shot Put at the Götzis meeting the previous week.
“I picked up the injury four weeks ago and I could do nothing in training for some days. The injury healed in time for Götzis. But during the 100 metres I felt a cramp and my doctor advised me to drop out. Götzis came too early. This week I made a test. It was ok and I decided to go to Arles to get the qualifying standard for Gothenburg and to score points for the Challenge”, said Sebrle.
However, luck was not in for one of pre-event favourites, Laurent Hernu from France who withdrew from the event due to injury.
The Czech star ended up the first day in the lead with 4292 points over Tunisia’s Hamdi Dhouibi (4263 points) and Finland’s Jaakko Ojaniemi (4215 points).
Aided by a +8.0 m/s tailwind Hamdi Dhoubi ran the fastest time of the 100 metres with 10.55 (963 points). Sebrle showed that his injury problems were healed by running the fourth fastest time with 10.79 (908 points).
Dhoubi remained in the lead after the Long Jump. In the second event of the day the African record holder leapt to 7.50m aided by a tailwind of +5.3 m/s (935 points). Sebrle was third with 7.57m which kept him in second place overall. Roland Schwrzl from Austria and Ojaniemi jumped respectively 7.60m (which earned him first place in the long jump) and 7.54 moving up to third and fourth place. Surprisingly the Austrian scored his best result with a legal wind of + 1.7 m/s.
Ojaniemi moved up into the lead thanks to his individual win in the Shot Put with 15.33m (810 points). Sebrle produced a solid 15.08m (795 points) and maintained his second place just three points behind the Finn. But Dhoubi lost the ground after his 13.91m release.
In the High Jump, Sebrle overhauled Ojaniemi moving up into leading position for the first time. The Czech legend cleared 2.01m (813 points) to Ojaniemi’s 1.95m. After four events Sebrle led by 52 points over Ojaniemi and by 89 points over Dhoubi.
The Tunisian ran the fastest time in the 400 metres with 48.52 (884 points) overhauling Ojaniemi (50.34) for second place behind Sebrle (49.79).
The gap of just 29 points between Sebrle and Dhoubi leaves the battle on day two still open.
“I am satisfied with my result at the end of day. The wind helped me in the 100 metres but was horrible especially during the 400 metres. In the Long Jump I did not care about the wind”, said Sebrle.
In the women’s Heptathlon Jessica Zelinka from Canada took the overnight lead with 3765 points just one week after setting a new Canadian record in Götzis. Runner-up after four events is reigning World junior silver medallist Viktorija Zemaytite with 3649 points, just nine points better than Hanna Melnychenko, a Ukrainian specialist based in Italy who finished second in Desenzano del Garda in mid-May.
Zelinka showed that she has fully recovered from her Götzis efforts by crossing the finish-line first in the 100 metres hurdles in 13.10 (tailwind +4.5 m/s) scoring 1109 points.
The Canadian, who finished fourth in the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne last March lost first spot after clearing 1.72 in the jump and faded into fourth. France’s Amandine Constantin and Viktoryia Zemaytite produced the best performance clearing 1.81 (991 points). The French athlete moved up into first place in the overall standing ahead Sarah Bouaoudia from Algeria (1.78) and Hanna Melnychenko (1.78).
Zemaytite shook up the ranking going to the overall lead producing a 14.00 metres release in the shot put (794 points), the second best result behind Russian Diana Koriskaya’s 14.34. Zelinka bounced back taking second spot with 13.36. Constantin (11.46 in the Shot Put) faded into fourth place behind Hanna Melnychenko (11.95).
Zelinka ran a fast 23.53 aided by a very strong tailwind of +8.3 m/s (the second fastest time behind South African Janice Josephs’ 23.41) and regained first overall spot over Zemaytite (24.85) and Melnychenko (24.08).
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
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