Ashton Eaton long jumping in the Tallinn International Indoor Combined Events Meeting on Saturday 5 Feb 2011 (Marko Mumm / Estonian Athletics Association) © Copyright
General News

2011 Combined Events Challenge – who to watch

With just a little over a month to go until the 24th edition of the Multistars meeting in Desenzano del Garda, Italy, kicks off the 2011 IAAF Combined Events Challenge on 7 May, we continue our build-up to the season-long quest for the ‘World’s Greatest Athlete’ with a look at who some of the main players in the series may be based upon action from the indoor season.

Eaton ready to challenge outdoors? - Decathlon

Ashton Eaton of the USA highlighted the 2011 Indoor season by breaking his own World indoor record in the Heptathlon 69 points with a sensational score of 6568 points in Tallin. He’s expected to be one of the big stars of this year’s IAAF Combined Events Challenge.

In the process of breaking the World record in his first ever professional competition, Eaton set PBs of 6.66 in the 60m, a sensational 7.60 in the 60m Hurdles (the best ever result in a heptathlon, improving the previous 7.76 set by Bryan Clay) and 14.45m in the Shot Put (his previous PB was 13.12m). He topped 5.20m in the Pole Vault, six centimetres shy of his PB, and clocked 2:34.74 in the 1000metres. According to his own standards, he underperformed only in the Long Jump where he leaped 7.77m taking off way behind the board (his PB is 8.04m) and in the High Jump where he cleared 2.01m, ten centimetres off his 2.11 PB, showing that he still has a big margin of improvement outdoors where he holds a decathlon PB of 8457 points set last year at the NCAA Championships in Eugene. If Eaton improves in his weakest throwing events (Discus and Javelin Throws), he can become among the strongest candidates for the gold medal in the IAAF World Championships in Daegu.

The European indoor season Heptathlon highlight was the European Championships in Paris Bercy where Andrei Krauchanka of Belarus returned to his best form winning his first major title with 6282 points, a new national record. Despite an ankle injury Krauchanka, the Olympic silver medallist in Beijing, set two PBs - in the Shot put (15.04m) and in the 1000m (2:39.80) - and scaled a key 5.20m in the Pole Vault which moved him into first position.

The biggest surprise in Paris European was Frenchman Nadir El Fassi who took silver after setting five PBs in the process of smashing his best tally from 5899 to 6237 points to beat Combined Events legend Roman Sebrle. In front of enthusiastic French crowd who packed the Palais Omnisport El Fassi set the second best ever national score behind Christian Plaziat’s 6418 points.  El Fassi, fourth after the Pole Vault, improved to second after his PB of 2:34.19 in the final 1000m event. Besides his win in the 1000m, El Fassi’s other highlights in Paris were his 2.12m win in the High Jump, 5.00m clearance in the Pole Vault and a 7.51m PB in the long jump. The Frenchman, the World Junior silver medallist in 2002, certainly has the potential to improve his outdoor PB of 8110 set last year.

Sebrle collected the sixth European Indoor medal of his career in Paris where he scored 6178 points to beat Dutchman Eelco Sintnicolaas by three points. Sebrle performed very well, finishing as overnight leader before being overtaken by Krauchanka after the Pole Vault. The Czech Republic’s “Mr. 9000 points” showed that he remains a force to be reckoned with.

Another name to follow will be Sintnicolaas. He was the rising star of the 2010 season, when he lost the European outdoor gold medal last year in Barcelona by just 17 points and showed again his huge potential in Paris where he vaulted an impressive 5.50m to move up into medal contention.

Can Djimou Ida take her Paris momentum outdoors? - Heptathlon

The French crowd had plenty to cheer about in Paris Bercy during the exciting women’s Pentathlon competition won by Antoinette Nana Djimou Ida. The French athlete, who was born in Cameroon, broke the French record with a world leading score of 4723 points defeating Lithuania’s Austra Skujyte. In the process Djimou Ida equalled her 60m Hurdles PB with 8.11, cleared 1.80m in the High Jump, set a Shot Put PB with 14.81m, won the Long Jump with 6.34m and capped her outstanding competition by clocking 2:18.99 in the 800m. Djimou, who finished third in Turin 2009 and is coached by 8524-point decathlete Sebastien Levicq, holds an outdoor Heptathlon PB of 6323 points, a result which she can certainly improve upon next summer if she keeps her current form.

Skujte, the 2004 Olympic silver medallist, made an impressive return to the combined events after focusing on the Shot Put during the past two years. In Paris the Lithuanian scored 4706 points in the in a competition highlighted by an impressive 17.53m in the Shot Put.

The rising star who emerged this winter was Dutchwoman Remona Fransen who won the European Indoor bronze medal with 4665 points in her first-ever major International competition where she cleared a new National high jump record of 1.92m.

These combined events stars who emerged during the indoor season will face the top Heptathlon stars like Jessica Ennis (GBR), Natalya Dobrynska (UKR), Hyleas Fountain (USA), Tatyana Chernova (RUS) and Jennifer Oeser (GER) who are expected to return to combined events competitions in May.

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF