30 APR 2014 Preview Florence, Italy

Mayer faces Sintnicolaas in Florence as Zelinka makes heptathlon return – IAAF Combined Events Challenge

Kevin Mayer en route to winning at the 2013 European Cup Combined Events Super League   (Marko Mumm / EKJL)Kevin Mayer en route to winning at the 2013 European Cup Combined Events Super League (Marko Mumm / EKJL) © Copyright

The Multistars Trofeo Zerneri Acciai, the second leg of the 2014 IAAF Combined Events Challenge, will be held for the second consecutive year at the Stadio Luigi Ridolfi in Florence on 2-3 May 2014.

In what will be the 27th edition of the traditional Italian meeting which moved last year from Desenzano del Garrda to Florence, European indoor champion Eelco Sintnicolaas and European indoor silver medallist Kevin Mayer are the stand-out names in a high-quality decathlon field which also features South American record-holder Carlos Chinin from Brazil.

In Gothenburg last year Sintnicolaas broke the Dutch indoor heptathlon record with 6372, ranking him ninth on the world indoor all-time list. Sintnicolaas also holds the Dutch decathlon record with 8506 and has finished fifth in the past two editions of the IAAF World Championships.

He won the European silver medal in Barcelona 2010 when he improved his PB to 8436, setting six individual PBs in the process, including the outstanding 5.45m in the pole vault, his best event.

At the World Championships last year, Sintnicolaas finished one place behind Kevin Mayer, his top rival this weekend. The French all-rounder is an outstanding talent who won the world youth gold medal in 2009, the world junior title in 2010 and the European junior title in 2011.

In Gothenburg last year he set indoor personal bests in six of the seven events and improved his heptathlon PB by more than 300 points to take the silver medal. Later that year he crowned his impressive 2013 season by improving his decathlon personal best to 8446 to finish fourth at the World Championships in Moscow, setting four individual PBs along the way.

Chinin also enjoyed a solid 2013 season, finishing sixth in Moscow with 8388 to narrowly miss his South American record of 8393 set a few weeks earlier in Sao Paulo. The Brazilian also finished runner-up in rainy conditions in Gotzis last year with 8182 behind Canada’s Damian Warner.

Britain’s Ashley Bryant is a well-known name at Multistars, having finished runner-up at last year’s meeting with a PB of 7985. He then went on to improve that mark with 8070 at the European Under-23 Championships.

Brazil will be also represented by 2011 world youth Octathlon bronze medallist Felipe Dos Santos, while Bryant will be joined by fellow Briton Martin Brockman, the Commonwealth bronze medallist.

Last year’s Multistars third-place finisher Pawel Wiesolek from Poland will return to Florence where he scored his 7727 personal best.

Another decathlete with a 8000+ PB score is Frenchman Gael Querin who finished fifth at the European Championships in Helsinki with 8098 points

Zelinka returns to combined events

Canadian record-holder Jessica Zelinka, sixth in the heptathlon and seventh in the 100m hurdles at the Olympic Games in London, leads the heptathlon field in Florence.

Zelinka, who finished fifth at the 2008 Olympic Games, hasn’t contested a heptathlon since the London 2012 Olympic Games. That season she split her efforts between the heptathlon and sprint hurdles and then focused exclusively on the latter in the 2013.

The 32-year-old is now concentrating on combined events again, with one eye on the Commonwealth Games later this year, where she will try to win the title that narrowly eluded her in 2010.

Zelinka will take on 2011 European indoor bronze medallist Remona Fransen of the Netherlands, who, like Zelinka, will be contesting her first heptathlon since 2012.

Other athletes in the field with a PB higher than 6000 points are US Olympian Chantae McMillan, who has a PB of 6188, Greece’s Sofia Ifadidou, who won the Multistars title in 2012 with a PB of 6109, and Norwegian record-holder Ida Marcussen.

The Multistars meeting has always had a strong tradition in revealing rising stars and this year the focus will be on Britain’s Morgan Lake. Widely tipped to follow in the footsteps of Denise Lewis, Jessica Ennis and Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Lake sensationally broke the long-standing British under-17 high jump record in the heptathlon at the 2013 World Youth Championships in Donetsk by clearing 1.90m; a height that would have been enough to win the individual title.

During the 2014 indoor season, Lake broke Carolina Kluft’s world youth indoor pentathlon best with 4284. In Florence this weekend she could have in her sights Johnson-Thompson’s UK age-16 best of 5481.

Another young athlete to watch out for is Brazil’s world junior bronze medallist Tamara De Souza.

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF