After two grueling days of competition Trey Hardee of the United States is picked up by his competitors following his win in the men's Decathlon in Berlin (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News

2009 - End of Year Reviews – COMBINED EVENTS

MonteCarloStatisticians A. Lennart Julin (SWE) and Mirko Jalava (FIN) begin the first of eight ‘end of season’ event category reviews covering all Athletics disciplines, highlighting the best performances which have taken place across our sport in 2009, with the COMBINED EVENTS.

MEN's Decathlon -

"Changing of the guards" is to some extent the appropriate way to characterize the decathlon in 2009. Of course it would be completely wrong to dismiss the 29-year-old reigning Olympic champion Bryan Clay after he missed this year due to injury, but it was still very much apparent in the World Championships that the event now had been taken over by a new generation of athletes closer to 20 than 30 years of age.

Of the top-10 in Berlin only one – bronze medallist Aleksandr Pogorelov – was born before 1984 and their average age was a fraction below 24 years. Knowing that decathletes usually peak at 26 to 30 the current situation provides a tantalizing prospect for the future of the decathlon towards London 2012 and beyond.

The newly crowned World champion Trey Hardee provides a good illustration of the process. He first reached 8000 points at age 20 five years ago, surpassed 8500 last year and now at age 25 he amassed 8790 in Berlin. It won't be easy for Bryan Clay to resume the position as the No 1 US decathlete and considering the fact that most of those following behind Hardee in Berlin are younger and on similar curves of progress it won't be easy for Hardee to stay on top either.

One conspicuous development in the Decathlon world in the last couple of years is the emergence of Cuba as major power. With Leonel Suarez, Yordanis Garcia and Yunior Diaz – all born in 1987 or 1988! – they had by far the best "team showing" of any nation in Berlin getting positions No 1, 8 and 9!

In addition to those athletes competing at the Worlds the "watch for the future" tag must also be attributed to German Michael Schrader who a couple of weeks before turning 22 won the prestigious Götzis meet (ahead of Hardee!) scoring 8522. Unfortunately an injury cut Schrader's season short so he missed the World Championships.

All this adds up to the fact that it will be more or less impossible for the "old guard" of World record holder Roman Sebrle and 2003 World champion Tom Pappas to reclaim their lost positions despite displaying quite good form in 2009. Sebrle at age 34 was 11th in Berlin and Pappas at age 32 after missing the US trials scored 8569 in a low-key competition in August.

World List - [Decathlon]

WOMEN's Heptathlon -

The women’s Heptathlon just might have met the new queen. For a short while Swedish Olympic and World Champion Carolina Klüft was missed, but the 2009 season witnessed a new Heptathlon star on the rise, Briton Jessica Ennis.

The 23-year-old had missed the 2008 season and Olympics because of an injury, but she came back this year to make a big impact on the event. Ennis started her season with a world leading 6587p personal best winning the Multistars meeting in Desenzano del Garda with Olympic Champion Nataliya Dobrynska of Ukraine closing in with her 6558p win at the Hypo meeting in Götzis. These two were the primary favourites in Berlin, but Ennis did gain the upper hand following some impressive results in individual events prior to the World Champs. These results included a 1.91m high jump win at the national championships, a huge 12.81s personal best in 100m hurdles and a 6.43m long jump personal best.

In Berlin Ennis didn’t encounter too much resistance as Dobrynska fought hard in the first three events, but was then unable to match the Briton’s results in the rest of the four remaining ones. Ennis started with a good 12.93s in the 100m hurdles and a 1.92m season’s best in high jump before setting a 14.14m personal best in shot put. A 23.25s season’s best in 200m gave her a big enough lead for day two to be just cosmetic stuff. She ended up with a 6731p personal best and a win with a margin of almost 250p ahead of German surprise name Jennifer Oeser, who took the silver medal with a 6493p personal best.

Europeans were commanding in this event in Berlin taking the first nine places in the competition. Kamila Chudzik of Poland was the third medalist with a 6471 season’s best and reigning Olympic champion Dobrynska faded to fourth place with 6444p.

The Olympic silver medalist Hyleas Fountain of USA recorded some great results in individual events during the 2009 season, but didn’t make the Berlin team as she was forced to withdraw from the competition at the national championships because of a neck injury.

The United States has 17 athletes in the world top 100. Russia is second with 11 and Germany third with nine.

World List - [Heptathlon]