Canada enjoyed an outstanding first day at the famous Hypo Meeting in the Austrian town of Gotzis, claiming the overnight lead in both events at the IAAF Combined Events Challenge meeting, thanks to Damian Warner in the Decathlon and Brianne Theisen in the Heptathlon on Saturday (25).
Warner, fifth at the London 2012 Olympic Games, finished the first day with 4340 points and an advantage 96 points over German surprise Kai Kazmirek, who was second with 4244 points. USA’s 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships gold medallist Gunnar Nixon was third after five events with 4239 points, just five behind Kazmirek.
The Canadain started well in the 100m and ran 10.36 for 1008 points, an impressive time in the chilly and rainy weather conditions and just two-hundredths away from his best.
Germany’s Olympic sixth-placer Rico Freimuth, the son of two-time Gotzis winner Uwe Freimuth, finished second best with 10.54.
Warner took his total to 1918 points after two events after a solid 7.40m Long Jump, just 14 cm off his best, and had a lead of 101 points over The Netherlands’ 2013 European Athletics Indoor Championships Heptathlon gold medallist Eelco Sintnicolaas, who had good marks of (10.74 in the 100m and 7.35 m in the Long Jump while Freimuth slipped back to third place with 1816 points his 7.15m effort.
The Shot Put produced some major changes to the rankings, although Warner managed to defend his overall lead with 2619 points after reaching 13.56m. Freimuth sent the shot out to 14.54m and moved back into second place, 42 points behind Warner, after an event where the best performer was Germany’s 2012 European Athletics Championships winner Pascal Behrenbruch with 15.99m.
Warner got his first personal best of the day when he cleared 2.09m in the High Jump, a four-centimetre improvement, to earn 887 points to increase his lead, with a gap of 142 points over Nixon, who was the best in the event with 2.15m.
Kazmirek produced the major change in the overall rankings after the final event by climbing to second overnight second with 4244 points after clocking a sparkling 47.39 in the 400m but Warner kept his overall lead after running 49.58. Nixon ran 48.52 to end the first day in third place.
“It was very exciting to compete in front of the best crowd in the world for a combined event meeting. They were very energetic and clapped all the time. I am very happy with my first day, although I was disappointed with the 400m. I ran a decathlon PB in the 100m but actually I have a event PB of 10.34. I started as a sprinter in the 100 m and 200 m and I also did long jump but my coach asked me to try decathlon two and a half years ago,” said Warner.
Nixon was also delighted with his excellent first day at his first major international meeting with senior implements. “It was my first time in Gotzis. I had a good day. I missed my high jump PB by two centimetres. In the Long Jump I made two fouls and I just made a safety jump in the third attempt. It was amazing to compete in Gotzis and compete against athletes from all over the world. After winning the world junior title in Barcelona last year, my big goal now is to score more than 8000 points and make the US team for Moscow,” said Nixon.
Theisen ahead by just five points
Theisen’s Heptathlon lead is much more slender than her compatriot and she leads by just five points from The Netherlands’ 2010 World junior champion Dafne Schippers on cold and rainy day where the temperature was just 9 degrees Celsius and which was more like one encountered in the late autumn rather than at the end of May.
Ukraine’s Hanna Melnychenko, third in the European Athletics Indoor Championships Pentathlon, ranks third overnight with 3740 points while Russia’s 2011 World champion Tatyana Chernova ended up the first day down in seventh place with 3633 points but she should move up on the second day when she will have her strongest events.
Belgium’s Sara Aerts clocked 13.16 for 1100 points in her favourite 100m Hurdles event to win the opening heat of first event while Theisen, the girlfriend of the absent and slightly injured 2012 Olympic Games Decathlon champion and World record holder Ashton Eaton, finished second in 13.19. Emerging Latvian star Laura Ikauniece, the 2012 European Athletics Championships bronze medallist, won the second heat with a personal best of 13.44.
Theisen then took the overall lead with 2125 points after clearing 1.84m in the High Jump for 1029 points, a height The Netherlands’ Nadine Broersen also cleared to move up to second place with 2075 points. The plaudits in this event went to Belarus’s Vana Maksimava, who cleared from Belarus cleared 1.87m at the second time of asking before failing with her three attempts at 1.90m to go third overall place with 2061 points.
Maksimava then took the overall lead with a total of 2861 points after her 14.09m in the Shot Put to overtake Theisen, who reached 13.00m), and lead by nine points. Broersen sent her implement out to 13.70m to follow just three points behind with 2849 points. Germany’s Julia Machtig was the best in this event with 14.73m.
Schippers, the fastest 200m heptathlete in the world of the current generation, won the final event of the day comfortably in 23.08 despite the less-than-helpful cold conditions and a 1.5 metres-per-second headwind which clearly prevented faster times, while Theisen who clocked 24.17 to regain the Heptathlon lead at the end of the first day.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF