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Larbi Bourrada and Rebecca Wardell are the leaders after day one at the Erdgas Mehrkampf-Meeting, an IAAF Combined Events Challenge meet, in Ratingen, Germany.
It was the Algerian decathlete, who produced the most notable performances of the first day on Thursday evening. The 24-year-old defending champion collected 4,439 points and is on his way to a personal best, which would be an African record as well. He established that mark in Ratingen a year ago with 8302 points. With a very good first day Bourrada put some distance between him and second placed Cuban Yunior Diaz (4204 points). Germany’s Jan Felix Knobel lies in third position overnight with 4175, followed by Yordani Garcia (Cuba/4105) and Matthias Prey (Germany/4008).
In the Heptathlon New Zealand’s Rebecca Wardell is the surprise leader after day one. The 34-year-old produced three personal bests and collected 3706 points. If she can continue in similar style on Friday she will beat her personal record of 6108 points, which she had established in Ratingen four years ago with a sixth place. However her lead is a slim one. Germany’s Julia Mächtig is just 44 points behind in second position (3662) while fellow-German Maren Schwerdtner is third with 3565. Ellen Sprunger (Switzerland/3515) and Sarah Cowley (New Zealand/3, 95) are in fourth and fifth position.
Bourrada sets off with 10.58 in the 100m - Decathlon
Bourrada had an extremely encouraging start to his first Decathlon of the season. The Algerian sprinted to a 100m personal best of 10.58 (+0.6). He didn’t have the fastest start in the field but on the line he was well ahead of the two Cubans Diaz (10.79) and Garcia (10.89). A year ago Bourradi had opened his Ratingen competition with 10.61, but he was supported by 3.4 m/s tailwind. His previous wind-legal personal best was 10.67.
Going into the long jump with a lead of almost 50 points he further increased it. Again there was noone who could come anywhere near to Bourrada, who jumped 7.57m. Last year this had been his best event, when he jumped a meeting record of 7.94 m with a tailwind of 2.7. Although he is not among the best in the Shot Put there was no chance that anyone would overtake him in the overall ranking. While Germany’s Knobel, who is in the pole position in the fight for the final place in the national Olympic team, produced the best Shot Put of the day with 15.89m Bourrada did well for his standards, improving his outdoor PB by five centimetres to 13.64m (but he has already achieved 14.00 m indoors).
Then there was a fine duel in the High Jump between Bourrada and Garcia. While one of the overall favourites, Cuban Leonel Suarez, had cleared 2.03m, then missed 2.06 and dropped out of the competition, Bourrada cleared all his heights including 2.06m on his first attempt. Garcia managed to jump 2.06m at his third attempt. Then both went over 2.09m with their second jumps, but they finally failed at 2.12m. Bourrada, Garcia and Suarez were the only ones with heights above the two-metre mark.
In the final event of the day Bourrada was number one once more, winning the 400m in 47.40. Diaz was second and the only other athlete with a sub-48 seconds result (47.56). Despite his superb but wind-aided long jump in 2011 Bourradi is 30 points ahead of his pace in 2011.
Mächtig reaches 15.98 in Shot Put - Heptathlon
As expected the Heptathlon could not reach the quality of the Decathlon, but a very close competition developed. And in contrast to the men there was a new leader after each of the four events. First Ellen Sprunger (Switzerland) showed a fine race at 100m Hurdles, winning in 13.60. In the High Jump Sarah Cowley (New Zealand) was well ahead of all her rivals, topping 1.81m to take the overall lead. She then opted to stop in order to conserve some energy.
But there was no way Cowley would hold her lead in the Shot Put. This event was dominated by Julia Mächtig, who got better and better from throw to throw. The German, who is in contention with Maren Schwerdtner for the final Olympic Heptathlon spot, started with 15.12m, followed with 15.29m and finally 15.98m, a meeting record. Ukraine’s Olympic Champion Natalya Dobrynska had thrown 15.31m back in 2006 in Ratingen.
However Mächtig couldn’t hold on to her lead in the 200m. In the final event of the day Ellen Sprunger produced the fastest time with 24.20 while Mächtig ran almost one second slower (25.07).
But it was Wardell who snatched the lead after four events. In her first Heptathlon this year she achieved three personal bests in a row: 14.02 in the 100m Hurdles, 1.75m in the High Jump and 15.30m in the Shot Put. Ironically it was after her only event, in which she did not produce a PB, that she took the overall lead: she finished day one with 24.50 in the 200 m.