03 MAY 2014 Report Florence, Italy

Sintnicolaas and teenager Lake triumph in Florence – IAAF Combined Events Challenge

Morgan Lake in the heptathlon javelin at Multistars in Florence (Organisers)Morgan Lake in the heptathlon javelin at Multistars in Florence (Organisers) © Copyright

Eelco Sintnicolaas and Morgan Lake were the winners at the 27th edition of Multistars, part of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge, at the Stadio Luigi Ridolfi in Florence. Sintnicolaas, the European indoor champion, won the decathlon with 8161, while 16-year-old Lake smashed the British youth best with an impressive score of 5896.

After a rainy and cool morning, weather improved with a bit of sun in the afternoon, although the temperature remained chilly.

Overnight leader Sintnicolaas picked up where he left off by winning the 110m hurdles in 14.31 on a wet track ahead of Brazil’s Carlos Chinin, who clocked 14.46, and Great Britain’s Richard Reeks (14.57).

After six events, Sintnicolaas increased his gap in the overall rankings to 97 points over Reeks and South American record-holder Chinin, who were in joint second place. Ashley Bryant, fourth at last year’s European Under-23 Championships and runner-up at the past two editions of Multistars, was dropped to fourth overall after clocking 15.06 in the sprint hurdles.

Despite a heavy downpour, Sintnicolaas set a discus PB of 43.38m to maintain his lead after seven events with 5697, more than 100 points ahead of Chinin who threw 42.00m. Sintnicolaas’s compatriot Pieter Braun, aged 21, set another personal best with 42.53m to move into third place overall, just eight points ahead of Bryant, who produced a best throw of 41.81m.

Sintnicolaas won his strongest event, the pole vault, with 5.25m to increase his leading margin to 373 points over Bryant, who cleared 4.55m. Brown vaulted 4.45m to consolidate his third place ahead of Reeks.

The positions remained the same after the javelin, one of Bryant’s best events, with the Briton throwing 63.00m. Sintnicolaas was close behind through with 61.82m, while Braun set another PB with 60.48m.

With Sintnicolaas leading by 355 points going into the final event, victory was guaranteed for the Dutch record-holder. As it happened, the 1500m didn’t affect the overall rankings whatsoever for the 10 athletes who finished the full decathlon.

Braun won the 1500m in 4:31.09 to finish third with 7773, adding more than 200 points to his PB, while Bryant clocked 4:35.72 to bring his tally to 7802, finishing second at Multistars for the third successive year. But there was no catching Sintnicolaas, who clocked 4:35.23 to win comfortably overall with 8161. In a competition heavily affected by rain for three quarters of the competition, Sintnicolaas was the only athlete to score more than 8000 points.

“Today I’m glad with my 5.25m in the pole vault and my 61.82m in the javelin,” said Sintnicolaas, who twisted his ankle in the shot put on the first day. “It was a good confidence booster. I’m also happy with my result in the discus because it was hard competing with a lot of rain. In the 400m the conditions were very hard because the track was slippery.

“I have had a good start to my season. I had surgery five weeks before Sopot but I managed to finish fourth there. I will have four weeks to recover before my next competition in Gotzis.”

Second-place finisher Bryant is now looking ahead to two championship decathlons within the space of three weeks this summer. “The decathlon is about consistency, so I am happy, especially with the pole vault and the long jump,” he said. “I also had a good discus. My goal is to compete at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, provided that I am selected. I missed the Olympic Games in London, so it will be a special event in front of home fans. I will also compete at the European Championships in Zurich.”

Rising star Lake becomes youngest ever Multistars winner

Morgan Lake started the second day on a high note, producing the best long jump performance of the day with 6.16m, just three centimetres off her personal best. Two-time world long jump champion Fiona May – who was born in Britain but has been living in Florence for many years – was an interested spectator in the stands.

Lake’s performance moved her 191 points ahead of overnight leader Jessica Zelinka, who managed only 5.52m in the heavy rain. Belarusian Katsiaryna Netsviatayeva maintained her third-place position after jumping 5.45m.

Zelinka reduced her gap on Lake to 137 points the javelin throw. The Canadian record-holder threw 39.40m to the young Briton’s 36.62m. Meanwhile, Netsvintayeva closed in on Zelinka with 41.76m, but the best mark of the day came from Norway’s Ida Marcussen with 48.61m.

To win, Lake had to finish within 10 seconds of Zelinka in the 800m. Zelinka, whose PB of 2:07.95 dates back to 2008, tried her best to claw her way back by putting pressure on Lake, but it was not enough.

Zelinka ran 2:15.79, while Lake smashed her PB with 2:22.72, bringing her winning total to 5896, smashing Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s British youth best in what was her first ever heptathlon with senior implements. The last time a 16-year-old scored higher was back in 1997, the year in which Lake was born.

“I did not expect to win the heptathlon; I just came here to focus on each event,” said Lake, who became the youngest ever winner at Multistars. “I set three PBs – in the 100m hurdles, the 200m and the 800m. The other highlight was the long jump, where I came close to my PB, and the high jump.

“In two weeks I have another heptathlon in Bedford,” added Lake, who will turn 17 on 12 May. “I am still undecided between the World Junior Championships in Eugene and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.”

Zelinka, who eventually slipped to third overall behind Netsviatayeva, 5868 to 5853, was delighted with her first combined events competition since the London Olympic Games.

“I didn’t come here with big expectations,” said Zelinka. “I was just happy to return to compete in a heptathlon. I’m very positive and encouraged after this competition. I didn’t have any stand-out performances, but there were no disasters. It’s a good starting point before the Commonwealth Games.”

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF