Tatyana Chernova and Karolina Tyminska in Kladno (graf.cz) © Copyright
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Chernova and Draudvila the overnight leaders in Kladno – IAAF Combined Events Challenge

Kladno, Czech Republic – Top Russian heptathlete Tatyana Chernova and, quite unexpectedly, Lithuanian Darius Draudvila were the leaders after Day 1 (15) of the 5th TNT-Fortuna Meeting, the third stop of the IAAF World Combined Events Challenge.

Chernova played her favourite’s role very well on the first day of action, tallying 3882 points thanks to personal bests in the 100m Hurdles and a would-be personal best in the 200m. In the men’s competition, it’s not Andrei Krauchanka nor Leonel Suárez, but Draudvila who is the surprise leader in the Decathlon. Draudvila, whose best major result was a sixth place finish from last summer’s European Championships in Barcelona, tallied 4225 points.

Draudvila in early command, both others remain well within striking distace - Decathlon

Draudvila kicked off with a 10.84 (+0.3 m/s) dash in the 100m, losing only to Eduard Mihan of Belarus by 0.01. (Later Mihan did not start in the Long Jump). Also running in the first heat, Roman Sebrle, showing that his recent injury has cost him some speed, clocked 11.32.Running against -2.4 metre per second headwinds, Krauchanka clocked 11.37 and Suárez 11.17. Five sprinters were separated by just 0.03, including another Cuban Yordanis García.

The best Long jump came from Krauchanka who leaped 7.51m, followed by Dutchman Hans Van Alphen (7.45m) and Carlos Chinin (7.39m) of Brazil. Chinin moved into second position behind Draudvila who held the lead by jumping 7.27m. Frenchman Gael Querin (7.36m) and Kévin Mayer (7.34m) also produced good efforts, as did local youngster Michal Stefek (PB 7.30m). Sebrle meanwhile only reached 7.21m after encountering some problems with his Achilles’ tendon, which limited him in the next events.

The strongest man in the field, Dmitriy Karpov, produced the best effort in the Shot Put result with 16.69m, which elevated him to second place. Draudvila hit a 15.61m lifetime best and maintained his lead. Three others managed to break the 15-metre line: European champion Romain Barras (15.22m), Van Alphen (15.04m) which moved him into third, and Sebrle (15.03m).

Chinin and Suárez cleared 2.07m in the High Jump, the brightest moment of the day for the Cuban world silver medallist. Five competitors cleared 2.01m: PBs for Einar Larusson of Iceland and Stefek, his second PB of the day. Draudvila was 3 centimetres short of that result, but still held the lead ahead of Chinin and Karpov, who like Draudvila topped out at 1.98m. Sebrle cleared 1.89m but bowed out after three tires at 1.95m, obviously not sure on his feet.

An excellent 400m came from Díaz, at 47.96 the only performance under 48 seconds. There was also very solid running also by Querin (48.65), Mayer (48.66), Willem Coertzen (48.87) of South Africa and Van Alphen (49.00). The top names finished just a few hundredths of a second back, but still under 50 seconds – Chinin, Draudvila and Karpov, were separated by just 0.39. Sebrle wasn’t able to run faster than 54.33, closing the first day far behind his teammates lead by Stefek (12th) whose 49.44 was his third personal best of the day.

Draudvila ended the day with 4225 points, 148 ahead of his result in Götzis late last month. His rivals in Kladno are much closer. Chinin, who has never broken the 8000-point barrier, trails by 61 points with a 4164 tally. Karpov (4143) is another 21 points behind. Van Alphen, García, and Coertzen ended the day with scores of around 4100, promising a tense conclusion on day 2. We can also expect attacks from the back by Barras or more likely by the excellent javelin thrower Suárez, who are currently lying in eighth and ninth, respectively, both less than 200 points behind. Sebrle ended the day 19th and it’s unsure whether he’ll continue.

“It wasn’t bad day,” Draudvila summarised. “The shot put was very good, the 100 metres wasn’t bad, either. Some events I may have done better the long jump and 400 metres, but I like being the leader. There are many very good athletes here and every point helps me overall. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.” Draudvila added that he’s recently been working on improving in the Discus and Javelin throws.

Chernova and Tyminska wage close duel - Heptathlon

From the opening 100m Hurdles event, the women’s competition become a duel between Chernova and Karolina Tyminska of Poland. Chernova showed her potential by running an excellent personal best of 13.32 (-0.5 m/s), a major improvement on he 13.47 previous best. On the other hand Tyminska looked very good as well finishing only 0.03 behind Russian favourite. Two other competitors ran under 14 seconds - Aiga Grabuste of Latvia and South African Janet Lawless - also in the same heat.

Chernova followed with another win in the High Jump clearing 1.83m. New Zealander Sarah Cowley succeeded at 1.80m to move into third overall. Meanwhile Tyminska jumped 1.74m along with Lawless – a PB for the latter - while her teammate Izabela Mikolajczyk, local Katerina Cachova and Helga Thorsteinsdottir (PB) all cleared 1.77m.

The Shot put was a minor loss for Chernova, whose momentum was halted with a 13.22m best. The victory went to Dutchwoman Jolanda Keizer who reached 14.65m. The only other woman with a 14-metre effort was Tyminska (14.41m) while Thorsteinsdottir (13.68m), moved into third.

In the final event, Chernova and Tyminska raced neck-and-neck in the 200m, with the Russian prevailing in 23.32 (+2.5) with a strong finish. Tyminska ran well, clocking 23.52. Latvian Grabuste won the other heat (+0.7) with 24.42 ahead of Cachova’s 24.75, PBs for both.

It looks like we have two races here in the Heptathlon. Chernova leads with 3882 points, 174 over her Götzis result with Tyminska still in contention at 3823, just 59 points behind. Three hundred points down one can see the struggle for third place with Grabuste leading that race with 3558. Keizer and Cachova are not very close to Latvian, but still in the game with 3400+ tallies.

“I’m very happy to finish with my personal bests,” Chernova, the reigning Olympic bronze medallist, said. “I think I have done what I could. A few weeks ago in Götzis I made a lot of mistakes in many events, that’s why I came here to do better results.”

The multi-eventers were greeted nice conditions, mostly sunny and warm weather and a solid crowd in Kladno, a city of 70 thousand located west of Prague in central Bohemia.

Michal Procházka for IAAF

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