Maurice Smith was seemingly cruising towards the gold medal. But the penultimate event of the two-day Decathlon provided a dramatic twist from the remarkable Olympic champion Roman Sebrle.
After eight events, the Jamaican held a 221-point advantage on the Czech, who was lying third. While Smith struggled with the Javelin, through, Sebrle proved what a great champion he is by throwing a lifetime best of 71.18m to overturn the huge deficit and take a 44 point lead into the final event, the 1500m at 9.30 local time.
In simple terms, the Czech approximately holds a 6.5sec advantage over Smith going into the 10th discipline.
It was all too cruel for Smith, who had led from the third event. The Pan-American champion did produce a season’s best of 53.61m with his first throw, but he could not better that effort and had to settle for just 642 points.
Throwing with a short run up and appearing to have an elbow problem, he never looked confident and modest efforts of 50.31m and 50.66m in the second and third rounds did not enhance his score.
By contrast Sebrle added 8cm to the his PB in the first round to amass 907 points and propel him to the verge of his first World title.
The man in the silver medal position coming into the penultimate event, Dmitriy Karpov, slipped down a place in the medal rakings but is within 18 points of Smith – a little over 2.5sec in the 1500m.
Throwing an hour or so before Smith and Sebrle, after being drawn in pool A, Karpov had the chance to put the pressure on the pair, but disappointed on his first two efforts with modest distances of 53.69m and 54.35m.
But the Kazakhstan athlete got it right with his third and last chance, as the spear pierced the grass at 59.84m for a 735 point total – within half a metre of his best to give himself a chance of the silver medal and outside crack at gold
Fourth placed Aleksey Drozdov was a little below par, throwing the spear a best of 63.51m – some way short of his personal best of 68.97m. The Russian remains a rock solid fourth in the overall standings with 7775
Cuba’s 18-year-old prodigy, Yordani Garcia, gave another hint at his exciting potential by adding more than 3m to his lifetime best with a first-round effort of 68.74m (870 points) to move up to fifth.
Overall standings after nine events
1, Sebrle 7966
2, Smith 7922
3, Karpov 7904
Osaka 2007 News Team/sl