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A cool 8800 points for victorious Sebrle, Burrell beats Braun for heptathlon gold

A cool 8800 points for victorious Sebrle, Burrell beats Braun for heptathlon gold
IAAF
2 June 2002 – Götzis, Austria – At the close of competition on the first day, Roman Sebrle and Shelia Burrell were the respective leaders of the decathlon and heptathlon, of yesterday’s two leaders, the first to clinch victory was Shelia Burrell of the United States.

Leading her rival Sabine Braun (GER) by just 11 points at the close of Saturday’s competition, the American had turned this into a 64 point advantage by the end of the seven events on Sunday afternoon, when her total stood at 6363 to Braun’s 6299. Sabine Braun’s compatriot Kathleen Gutjahr was third with a total of 6222 points.

Burrell had maintained her advantage through the three events contested here today, continually shadowed by veteran Braun.

The thirty-year-old American was particularly happy at her victory over her rival Braun: “I had begun to think I would never be able to win in Götzis,” she said, “this is the fourth time that I have competed here and I never won before, so I am not really worried if my score is not fantastic. I have won and that is what counts for me today.”

There was no change in the men’s leaders following the first event of the day, the 110 metre hurdles, sixth discipline for the decathletes, despite all three of the leaders recording personal bests for the event. With 13.89, worth 989 points (previous PB 13.92 – 985pts), Roman Sebrle (5495 points scored) edged a little further ahead of Tom Pappas (USA), despite the American knocking 34 hundredths off his PB with a time of 13.93, worth 984 points and taking his total after six events to 5464. William Frullani also took 24 hundredths off his previous best with a time of 14.28, worth 939 points and giving him a six event total of 5421 points.

Finally it was the seventh event of the decathlon that was to cast the die for the rest of the day.

It was the start of Frullani’s rapid fall, as the Italian came 14th in this event with 40.89 metres and we saw Alexander Yurkov bound into third place with 861 points gained for his second effort of 49.53 metres. Michael Nolan showed well, with 48.64 metres for 842 points and Sebrle confirmed his lead in the competition with a third place in this discipline for a new personal best of 48.02 metres (829 points).

Tom Pappas held onto third place in the overall competition thanks to his one good throw of the discus competition, his first attempt of 45.73 metres worth 782 points.

With the leaders sorted, it was time for the pole vault, which turned out to be the most exciting event of this weekend. Sebrle scored another personal best with his second attempt clearance of 5.00 metres, before failing three times at 5.10 and leaving the competition in the hands of rivals Pappas and Yurkov.

The American cleared 5.10 with his second vault and elected to attempt 5.20m - a new personal best – which he cleared on his first try. Yurkov meanwhile had decided to pass at 5.10m and got straight to 5.20m (a new personal best – previously 5.15m), once again cleared at his first attempt. Pappas now asked for the bar to be raised to 5.30 metres, but this was to prove too much of an aspiration and he made three unsuccessful attempts at the height.

This left Yurkov alone on the vault runway. The 26 year old Ukrainian asked for the bar to be set at 5.40 and after a lengthy time spent getting all his concentration together, it was over the bar at his first try - a massive 25 centimetre improvement in his pb. Buoyed by this success, he once again asked the bar to be raised, but this was a bridge too far and he made three unsuccessful attempts at the height.

Roman Sebrle was unable to manage another personal best in the javelin, but his first throw of 67.70 would have won him this discipline. Not satisfied, the Czech, who has a personal best of 70.16 metres in the javelin, bettered his first round result with his second effort and clinched victory in this event with a superb throw of 68.97 metres before fouling his third round throw. His result earned him 874 points and took his running total to 8108 points – off record levels, but well on track for his personal forecast of Friday, when he said that he would be happy with 8700-8800 points.

Yurkov was unable to match his virtuosity in the pole vault in the javelin and remained in third position behind Pappas at the close of this ninth and penultimate event. Pappas best throw of 63.42 metres was worth 789 points, giving him a total for the nine events of 8007, with Yurkov earning 680 points for his best throw of 56.14 metres for a nine event total of 7833.

Barring a disaster, Sebrle was home and dry.

And so it was. Despite a relatively slow 1500 metres -  just over 16 seconds off Sebrle’s personal best – with his time of 4:38.16 worth “just” 692 points,  the World Record holder finished the day right on the top end of his forecast score with exactly 8800 points at the end of the competition.

Tom Pappas took second place with a new personal best of 8583 points (previous best 8467) and Yurkov third with 8509, over 300 points clear of the next contender, Hungary’s Attila Zsivoczky with 8175 points to his credit.