The 37th edition of the famous Decastar meeting in the French town of Talence, the final meeting of the 2013 IAAF Combined Events Challenge, sees South Africa’s Willem Coertzen and Ukraine’s 2013 World champion Hanna Melnychenko in the lead overnight on Saturday (14).
In the men’s Decathlon, the big name going into his blocks for the 100m was the USA’s London 2012 Olympic Games and 2013 IAAF World Championships gold medallist Ashton Eaton.
The World record holder had got married on 13 July to the Canadian heptathlete and 2013 World Championships silver medallist Brianne Theisen but they had put their honeymoon on hold until the end of the season.
However, the couple then decided to interrupt their holidays for the competition in Talence to maintain their chances of finishing high in the 2013 IAAF Combined Events Challenge standings.
“I had my spikes with me and I will see what this weekend will bring me,” said Eaton beforehand, although he had already shipped his poles home. “I have talked already with Renaud Lavillenie, (the 2012 Olympic champion in the Pole Vault), to borrow one of his poles for that event,” he joked.
Eaton duly won the 100m, held in cloudy conditions although the rain stayed away, in 10.60 with Canada’s Damian Warner, the Moscow bronze medallist, only 0.01 in arrears.
In the first round of Long Jump, Eaton and Coertzen both started with a foul but then Coertzen produced a leap of 7.51m and Eaton immediately responded with 7.50m, both men’s best of the three rounds.
No other athlete could come close to these distances with the South American record holder, Brazil’s Carlos Chinin, third with 7.20m.
Germany’s 2012 European champion Pascal Behrenbruch is usually one of the best shot putters among the world’s leading Decathletes and he proved this again with a distance of 15.95m, followed by Russia’s Vasiliy Kharlamov with 15.53m.
Eaton produced a put of 13.94m, which was enough to keep him on top of the leader board after three events, with a total of 2612 points, 114 ahead of Warner.
Eaton aches and exits
In the High Jump, Eaton started at 1.81m but on his first attempt he felt a pain in his back and decided to take any further risks and sadly withdrew from the competition.
This gave Coertzen the opportunity to take his second victory of the day when he cleared 2.08m., a personal best for the South African, and with Warner unable to go any higher than 1.96m, Coertzen went into the the overall lead after four events, 70 points ahead of his Canadian rival.
Just before the start of the last heat in the 400m it started to rain in Talence but it was not enough to halt the battle between Coertzen and Warner. The latter won in 48.96 with Coertzen only 0.03 behind.
After five events, Coertzen has 4197 points and Warner 4128, with The Netherlands’ Eelco Sintnicolass third on 3997 points.
France’s Pole Vault star Renaud Lavillenie was also making his debut in a Decathlon in Talence.
The Frenchman had declared that he had set himself two goals this weekend. Firstly, to improve the best performance in a Decathlon Pole Vault; which is currently held by Germany’s Tim Lobinger with 5.76m, and also to score more than 7000 points so that such a performance will be recognized in the record books.
After day one, Lavillenie totaled 3412 points, and is bringing up the rear of the 16 men still in the competition, which means he needs to produce a strong second day performance to make his mission successful.
World champion Melnychenko leads the Heptathlon
After day one, Melnychenko leads with 3752 points while Theisen-Eaton is second with 3727 points but, in Moscow last Month, the Canadian woman had a better second day then Melnychenko which sets up a thrilling finale not only to the Decastar meeting but also the overall IAAF Combined Events Challenge, in which they are the leading protagonists.
Poland’s Karolina Tyminksa is third overnight with 3,660 points, just one point ahead of Czech Republic’s Eliska Klucinova.
In the first event of the Heptathlon, the 100m Hurdles, Theisen-Eaton took the victory in 13.26, followed home by Melnychenko in 13.29, so only conceded five points to her opponent.
In the second event, the High Jump, both women cleared 1.80m with Klucinova winning with a personal best height of 1.89m.
USA’s Sharon Day, formerly a specialist high jumper who was also in contention for a good position in the 2013 Challenge, missed her opening height and effectively ended her chances of being in the money.
It was a case of history repeating itself for Day, as she also had three failures at her opening height in the Hypo meeting in Götzis back in May.
However, Day decided to continue the competition and she showed her mettle by winning the third event of the day.
In the Shot Put, Day produced an effort of 14.75m. Melnychenko was better than Theisen-Eaton by 42cm - 13.08m to 12.66m - and so moved into the lead after three events by 23 points.
In the last event of the first day, the 200m, Theisen-Eaton had the outside lane while Melnychenko started in lane three and so could chase her rival.
Again, both women finished very close to each other. Melnychenko won the event in 24.22, 0.02 ahead of Theisen-Eaton.
Hans van Kuijen for the IAAF