Jessica Ennis of Great Britain looks on as she competes in the Women's Heptathlon High Jump on Day 7 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 3, 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
There was some real threat early in the better group jumping at 1.77m with rain coming down hard for a while, but gladly the rain stopped and the deciding heights were conducted in proper sunny conditions. Jessica Ennis had a bit of a scare having failed twice at 1.86m, but a third time clearance at this height brought her enough points for a successful Heptathlon.
The 26-year-old was really close to overcome 1.89m, which would have equalled her season’s best, but just fell short. After the first two events the Briton is still very close to 7000p pace and is still the only pick for the win at this stage.
Behind the leader there was some movement and it now seems like there are five or six possible names going for the remaining two medals.
In the High Jump 2004 Olympics silver medallist Austra Skujyte of Lithuania was the best with a 1.92m personal best first time clearance and is aiming to beat 6500p for the first time during her career. 14.00s in the hurdles was a season’s best and now a PB in High Jump puts the 2012 World Indoor Championships Pentathlon bronze medallist in a good position before her best event, the Shot Put, where the Lithuanian has a monster PB 17.86m from the Berlin World Championships individual competition qualification.
The second best athlete in the High Jump may not fight for the medals, but might have an outside chance for a place in the top eight. Just 19 years old, the World Junior champion in Long Jump, Katarina Johnson-Thompson of Great Britain has given the home crowd a lot to cheer about.
She started by equalling her 100m Hurdles PB with 13.48 and adding three 3cm to her outdoor High Jump PB going over 1.89m (has jumped 1.88m indoors this season). Belarusian Yana Maksimava also jumped 1.89m, but she will not be in the top eight here. Dutch athlete Nadine Broersen cleared a season’s best 1.86m and following her 13.64 PB in the hurdles could be on her way to the top eight.
American Hyleas Fountain, the Beijing silver medallist in 2008, still has her eyes on a medal here too. Fountain cleared 1.86m, one cm below her season’s best and has a possibility of adding another Olympic medal here.
The reigning Olympic Champion Nataliya Dobrynska (UKR) went really close of clearing 1.86m, which would have equalled her PB from 2006, but even with 1.83m she has to be happy as that is the same result she achieved at the Daegu World Champs last year and 3cm more than what she jumped on her way to the Olympic gold.
2011 World Champion Tatyana Chernova (RUS) did not seem as sharp as what’s needed in the High Jump and couldn’t clear 1.83m, which would have been the result she was looking for. But even 1.80m is not very bad for the Russian as that’s only 2cm less than her 2012 best and 3cm less than what she jumped in Daegu 2011.
After a good start Russian Kristina Savitskaya fell well behind of her PB series from 2012. A personal best in the hurdles, but 1.83m best in the High Jump is not enough and the world number three in 2012 is highly unlikely to win a medal now.
German Lilli Schwarzkopf, eighth in Beijing 2008, set a personal best in the hurdles and a 1.83m season’s best in the High Jump and has a chance to reach her 2008 Heptathlon PB 6536p here. Ukrainian Lyudmyla Yosypenko also cleared a SB 1.83m and has bettered the results of her 6501p PB in Götzis 2012 in the first two events.
It looks like the best Heptathlon in quite some time with about 10 athletes with the possibility to go over 6500 points. Of course some of these will drop off the pace or even the Heptathlon in the remaining five events, but there is a good chance that 6600 points will not be enough for a medal here.
Jessica Ennis leads with 2249p after the first two events. Hyleas Fountain is second with 2224 and the British junior athlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson in third with 2146p. But all this is bound to change in the next event, the Shot Put, where the difference in points will be huge between some athletes now near the top of the rankings.
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF