Sarah Lagger in the heptathlon javelin at the IAAF World Youth Championships Cali 2015 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Bydgoszcz, Poland

Preview: heptathlon – IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016

The silver medallists from two of the biggest age-group championships last year will go head-to-head in the heptathlon as they look to secure their first major title.

Austria’s Sarah Lagger took the silver medal in the heptathlon at the IAAF World Youth Championships Cali 2015, while Belgium’s Hanne Maudens earned the same colour medal at last year’s European Junior Championships.

Lagger, who at 16 is almost two years younger than Maudens, has the slightly superior personal best. Her 5776 score from Gotzis gives her the best mark this year of all the heptathletes in Bydgoszcz, but she will head to Poland having competed at the European Youth Championships just one week prior.

With a personal best of 5720 and a season’s best just 11 points shy of that, Maudens is close behind.

What makes the battle all the more intriguing is that the two athletes are closely matched in almost every discipline. Lagger is marginally quicker in the sprint events, while Maudens has the edge in the long jump, but very little separates the two.

It has all the makings of a competition that will result in an epic battle in the final event, the 800m.

But the pair aren’t so far ahead of their opponents that they’re guaranteed to take gold and silver. Lagger’s teammate Karin Strametz has scored 5666 this year and will be expected to excel in the 100m hurdles, having reached the semifinals in that event at last year’s World Youth Championships.

The host nation’s hopes rest with Weronika Grzelak, who earlier this year set a Polish U20 record of 5625. If she is able to bank precious points in the high jump, one of her strongest events, she could break into the 5700s, which may not be far off a medal.

Don’t be surprised to see Bianca Salming near the top of the leaderboard after three events. The Swede is a strong high jumper and shot putter and will be counting on strong performances in those events to get near the medals.

Should any of those five medal contenders falter, there are several other athletes – including Cuba’s Adriana Rodriguez, Ireland’s Elizabeth Morland, Australia’s Alysha Burnett and Emma Oosterwiegel of the Netherlands – who could capitalise.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF