02 MAY 2014 Report Florence, Italy

Sintnicolaas and Zelinka lead overnight in Florence – IAAF Combined Events Challenge

Jessica Zelinka wins the 100m hurdles in Florence (Organisers)Jessica Zelinka wins the 100m hurdles in Florence (Organisers) © Copyright

Pre-event favourites Eelco Sintnicolas and Jessica Zelinka are the overnight leaders in rainy and chilly Florence at the 27th edition of the Multistars, part of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge.

Dutch record-holder Sintnicolaas ended the first day with 4028 points, 36 points ahead of Great Britain’s Ashley Bryant (3994) and 38 points ahead of his fellow Dutchman Peter Braun (3992) in a close decathlon.

The heptathlon is even closer at the top with Canadian record-holder Zelinka leading by just two points over 16-year-old British rising star Morgan Lake, 3609 to 3607.

Sintnicolaas overcomes twisted ankle to lead decathlon

Young Brazilian Felipe Dos Santos clocked the fastest 100m time of the day with 10.74, scoring 919 points to beat European indoor champion Sintnicolaas who also dipped below 11 seconds with 10.94. But Dos Santos unfortunately pulled up injured at the end of the race and was forced to pull out of the competition before the long jump.

Great Britain’s Ashley Bryant followed up his 11.08 100m performance with a solid 7.42m to win the long jump and take the early lead with 1758, just six points ahead of Sintnicolaas who long jumped 7.27m. Braun improved his long jump PB to 7.40m to move into third with 1731.

Under a heavy downpour Sintnicolaas took the overall lead with 2479 points after his 13.98m in the shot put, moving 23 points ahead of Bryant, who managed 13.51m. Braun, the Dutch junior record-holder, maintained his overall third-place position after setting an outdoor shot put PB of 13.55m.

South American record-holder Carlos Chinin from Brazil got off to a slow start in the first two events, recording 11.19 in the 100m and 7.00m in the long jump, but he recovered well with 14.37m in the shot put to move up to overall fourth place.

The high jump produced a major shake-up to the overall ranking as Ukrainian champion Vasyl Ivanytskyi leapt 2.04m on a wet track to move from seventh to first overall with 3194 points , moving 33 points ahead of Bryant who cleared 1.89m.

Sintnicolaas lost valuable points after only clearing 1.86m and dropped to third place. But he recaptured the overall lead by winning the 400m in 48.81 to end the first day with 4028 points.

Bryant, who has finished second at Multistars for the past two years, clocked 49.60 in the 400m to finish the first day in runner-up place with 3994, his best ever day-one score at Multistars. Braun ended the day with another personal best, clocking 49.14 in the 400m to move back into third place overall.

In a close contest, just 78 points separates the top six athletes at the end of the first day. France’s Kevin Mayer, who was expected to be a contender, did not start for the 400m but hadn’t been a significant factor earlier in the competition, placing ninth after the first four events.

“It was a hard competition in rainy and cold conditions and the track was slippery,” said Sintnicolaas. “I twisted my ankle during the shot put and I jumped 1.86m in the high jump where my PB is 2.08m.”

Zelinka on course for winning return

Jessica Zelinka, who is contesting her first combined events competition since her sixth-place finish in the heptathlon at the 2012 Olympics, clocked the fastest 100m hurdles time with 13.26. Her early lead was no surprise, as she made the Olympic final in this event and has a PB of 12.65.

Jessica Tappin from Great Britain finished second in 13.57 and 16-year-old team-mate Morgan Lake started her first senior heptathlon with a solid 14.25 clocking.

Lake recovered from a failure at her opening height of 1.72m to go on to clear 1.87m in the high jump, easily the best of the day and made all the more impressive by the rainy weather conditions. It moved her into the overall lead with 2010 points, almost 100 points ahead of Tappin, who cleared 1.72m. Zelinka, competing in her weakest event, cleared 1.66m to drop to third place overall.

Lake opened the shot put with a huge foul that looked close to 14 metres, but had to settle for a valid mark of 12.80m in the third round to maintain her lead.

Belarusian Katsiaryna Netsviatayeva, fourth after 13.92 in the 100m hurdles and 1.72m in the high jump, moved up to second place after winning the shot put with 14.02m. Zelinka recorded 13.49m to keep her third place overall.

The positions changed once again after the 200m, which Zelinka won in 24.25 to finish the first day in the lead with 3609 points. Lake set her second PB of the day, clocking 25.04 to end the first day just two points behind Zelinka. Netsviatayeva finished the first day in third place with 3544 points after running the 200m in 25.07.

“I set two personal best in the 100m hurdles and the 200m,” said Lake. “I also performed well in the shot put and in the high jump. Apart from the rain, I enjoyed my day in Florence in my first senior competition.”

The leading trio is closely matched in the long jump, the first event of day two. But Zelinka and Netsviatayeva are superior javelin throwers and 800m runners to Lake and are expected to battle it out for the victory tomorrow.

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF