Tatyana Chernova of Russia in the Heptathlon Long Jump (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Götzis, Austria

Heptathlon ‘Big Three’ ready to square off in Gotzis - PREVIEW

This weekend’s 38th edition of the Hypo-Meeting in Götzis in the Austrian region of Voralberg will be highlighted by one of the best Heptathlon fields which features Olympic and World Indoor Pentathlon champion Natalya Dobrynska, reigning European champion Jessica Ennis and reigning World champion Tatyana Chernova.

The "big three" of women’s combined events, who won the last four major outdoor titles since 2008, will renew their clash at this traditional IAAF Combined Events Challenge stop two and a half months after their fantastic tussle at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul where Dobrynska broke the World indoor pentathlon record with 5013 points in the most exciting Pentathlon in history. In the Turkish capital Ennis lost the World indoor crown she won two years before in Doha but improved her British Indoor record with 4965 points.

Ennis won the last two editions of the Hypo Meeting. In 2010 she scored 6689 points beating Chernova (6572 points) and then went on to win the European title with 6823 points missing Denise Lewis’s British record by just eight points.

Last year Ennis won her second Götzis title beating Chernova with a 6790-point tally, then a world seasonal best which was improved later in the year by Chernova when she won the World title over Ennis with 6880 points. Her winning score in Götzis last year is the second best performance in her career.

Ennis started her 2012 outdoor season with a couple of good results in individual events. In the 100m Hurdles last weekend in Manchester, she beat the Olympic champion Dawn Harper and the World silver medallist Danielle Carruthers. She also took part in some selected throwing events where she threw the javelin to 45.66m and produced 14.33m in the Shot Put.

"In Götzis I would love to run fast in the hurdles and just get some solid performances, just make sure everything is really consistent. More than anything I just want really solid performances, not for one event to really let me down. When you do great you take a lot of confidence from them so I would love to do that as well," Ennis said.

Chernova won in Götzis in 2008 with 6618 points. In that edition Dobrynska finished ninth with 6268 points but the Ukrainian peaked her form at the Olympic Games in Beijing to take gold while Chernova took the bronzel. Dobrynska returned to Götzis in 2009 as reigning Olympic champion and lived up to her reputation by taking the win with 6558 points in a re-match with Chernova who had to settle for seventh place.

The Hypo-Meeting will not only be a three-women show but has assembled the best non-championships field.

Lithuanian Austra Skujte won the 2012 World Indoor bronze and completes the Istanbul podium. Skujte is a very consistent heptathlete who won the Olympic silver medal in Athens 2004. She returned to combined events in 2011 after focusing on her favourite shot put discipline for two years.

The traditionally strong German team will rely on the strong support from their fans who make the short trip from neighbouring Germany. Jennifer Oeser has shown consistency in recent years by winning World silver on home soil in Berlin 2009, the European bronze medal in Barcelona and World bronze in 2011.

The German team will be also represented by 2006 European bronze medallist Lilli Schwarzkopf (PB 6536 points) and Julia Mächtig (PB 6320 points).

Other specialists who can fight for the top positions are Antoinette Nana Djimou from France, European Indoor champion in Paris 2011; Canadian Jessica Zelinka, fourth at the 2008 Olympic Games; Ukraine’s Lyudmila Yosipenko, third in Götzis in 2009; and rising star Dafne Schippers, reigning World and European junior champion. The Dutchwoman impressed at last year’s European Junior Championships in Tallin where she clocked 13.27 in the 100m Hurdles and 22.91 in the 200m and leapt to 6.47m in the Long Jump. She produced better results than those achieved to win the titles in these individual events. Then Schippers, who is also a very strong sprinter, clocked 22.69 to reach the 200m semis at the World Championships.

Two more rising stars in the field are last year’s European Under 23 silver and bronze medallists Katerina Cachova from Czech Republic and Yana Maksimaya from Belarus.

Men’s battle wide open - Decathlon

The men’s field, without World champion Trey Hardee and World Indoor Heptathlon champion Ashton Eaton, will be wide-open.

Leonel Suarez from Cuba returns to the legendary Mösle Stadium one year after he managed to take second place after catching up positions on the second day where he set the javelin meeting record with 75.49m.

Suarez, who also finished third here in 2010, showed consistency in major events in recent years finishing second at the 2009 World Championships and third at the 2008 Olympic Games.

The strong Cuban team will be also formed by 2005 World Junior champion Yordanis Garcia (PB 8496 points) and Yunior Diaz (PB 8357 points).

Andrei Krauchanka from Belarus, the 2008 Olympic silver medallist and 2011 European Indoor champion, will return to the Mösle Stadium where he sensationally rose to the top in 2007 by winning with his PB of 8617 points, which improved his previous lifetime best by 604 points.

The German team will be formed by Pascal Behrenbruch, sixth at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin with his PB of 8439 points; Rico Freimuth, third at the European Junior Championships in 2007 and son of 1985 and 1988 Götzis winner Uwe Freimuth; 2008 World Junior champion Jan Felix Knobel; 8295 points performer Norman Müller; and Michael Schrader, who sensationally won in Götzis in 2009 with his PB of 8522 points but was later sidelined by a series of injuries.

Roman Sebrle, a five-time winner in Götzis who set the World record in this meeting with his 9026 point tally in 2001, will return for the 14th time after missing last year’s edition due to injury.

Other strong contenders will be Dutchman Eeco Sintnicolaas, European silver medallist in Barcelona, fourth at the European Indoor Championships and in Götzis in 2011; South African Willem Coertzen, who is currently second in the world seasonal list with 8244 points; Serb Mihail Dudas, third at the European Under 23 Championships and sixth at the World Championships in Daegu; and Thomas Van Der Plaetzen from Belgium, 2011 European Under 23 champion.

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF

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