Overnight leader Hanna Melnychenko in Szczecin (Marek Biczyk) © Copyright
General News 27 June 2009 – Szczecin, Poland

Kasyanov and Melnychenko the overnight leaders in Szczecin

Szczecin, PolandAfter the first day of European Cup Combined Events Superleague in the Wieslaw Maniak Stadium in Szczecin (Saturday, June 27th), Hanna Melnychenko of Ukraine and her teammate Oleksiy Kasyanov emerged as the clear leaders.

Both, however still have a battle on their hands as they are followed in the standings by athletes capable of big scores on day two. Melnychenko with 3756 points has a 50-point lead over Kamila Chudzik of Poland and 119 points over another Pole Karolina Tyminska. Kasyanov, with 4360 points is 112 points ahead of Aleksandr Pogorelov and 119 points ahead of Olympic silver medalist Andrei Krauchanka.

The European Cup Combined Events Superleague is part of the IAAF World Combined Events Challenge.

Heptathlon – Can Melnychenko hang on?

In the Heptathlon, the day started with Phyllis Agbo of Britain winning the 100m Hurdles just 0.02 ahead of Melnychenko. The Briton’s lead was short-lived: the Ukrainian athlete was one of only two athletes to clear 1.84m in the High Jump and after two events led by 126 points. At this point, Kamila Chudzik was third, 132 points behind the leader, but a season’s best of 1.75m in the second event signalled that the Pole was in top condition.

This was confirmed in the next event. Chudzik exploded in the Shot Put with an outdoor PB of 14.84m, the second furthest throw of the day. With Melnychenko reaching only 13.12m, the Ukrainian’s lead was cut to just 17 points. In the final event of the day, Chudzik ran a good 24.77 despite being drawn in lane one and running into headwind.

Melnychenko beat that in a later heat, stopping the clock in 24.40, but the lead of 50 points she carries into day two may not be sufficient. The Pole is currently 16 points ahead of the score she reached when setting her PB of 6494 points last year. If she can get near the 6.43m long jump and 55m-plus javelin throw she achieved then, the Ukrainian may struggle to keep up. Melnychenko herself is marginally down on the score from this year’s Gotzis meet, in which she scored 6445 points.

Olympic seventh placer Karolina Tyminska typically started the day slowly and was only 11th after two events, but came through with 13.91m in the shot put and ended the day with a clear win in the 200m in 23.86. Coming back from an injury earlier this year, Tyminska may not yet be ready to challenge the top two, but she nonetheless looks capable of a world-class score.

The top three are followed in the order by the surprising French athlete Yasmina Omrani, who, with 3564 points after day one, looks on track to threaten the 6000 point barrier for the first time in her career.

In the team standings, a tight battle continued throughout the first day among four evenly matched teams. In the end, the Poles emerged as the leaders, but with only 15 points ahead of the Ukrainians, 51 over France and 61 over Russia, the matter of the win is still very much open.

As expected, Kasyanov the first day Decathlon leader

In the men’s event, Olympic seventh placer Kasyanov set the pace from the start. His 10.63 in the 100m gave him a considerable lead, which he widened further by long jumping 7.59m. Aleksandr Pogorelov was not near the top in the first event, but was then the only one to jump further than Kasyanov with 7.65m, and moved into second place after two events, 98 points behind the Ukrainian.

The big Russian gained many points by winning the Shot Put with 15.94m and closed down to within 30 points of Kasyanov. His 2.04m in the high jump, compared to 1.98m for the Ukrainian, reversed the order of the top two for the first time, giving Pogorelov a lead of 25 points. Kasyanov, however, proved his speed once again with 48.34 in the 400m, whereas Pogorelov was nearly three seconds slower. The order was thus reversed again, with the Ukrainian athlete entering day two with a considerable lead.

It is, however, a lead that may be difficult to maintain. Kasyanov’s forte is the sprints, which means he is expected to struggle somewhat. While he was the fastest in the field today, his score from day one is still 101 points down on when he achieved 8286 in Gotzis earlier this year. Pogorelov is only 57 points down on his score from last year’s Gotzis meet, when he finished on 8381 points.

Neither is the battle for the win expected to be limited to these two. Andrei Krauchanka struggled somewhat at the start of his first Decathlon of the year, but after winning the High Jump with 2.10m and a 400m run in 48.82, he is third, only marginally down on Pogorelov. While he is well down on the best scores of his career, the second day still leaves him with a chance to challenge the lead.

Aleksey Drozdov of Russia is in fourth place after day one with 4175 points. Other men capable of significant moves forward on day two include Romain Barras, seventh after Saturday’s events, and Belorussian number two Aleksandr Parkhomenka, 14th so far.

In the team event, Russia took the lead after the Long Jump and ran away from their competition. Their lead reached over 400 points at one point, but it was reduced to 275 points over Belarus at the end of the day. With the top Belorussians known for big day-two scores, the Russians may still have a battle on their hands. Ukraine is currently in third place, 379 points behind the leaders.

Pawel Jackowski for the IAAF

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