Leonel Suarez of Cuba in the decathlon shot, setting his third PB of the day (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Men's Decathlon - Shot Put

Clay in terrific form, going for 9000 points now – decathlon after event three

Bryan Clay (USA) is not a newcomer in major championships, but this decathlon is the first time the 28-year-old is totally in his own class. The American got off to a slow start in major championships unable to finish in Edmonton 2001 and Paris 2003. He then succeeded in Budapest 2004 and won the silver medal in the Heptathlon there at the World Indoor Championships. 2004 continued well with another silver in Athens at the Olympic Games, and Clay won the World title in Helsinki 2005 for his first top finish.

The third event at the Beijing Olympics, the Shot Put, was the first where Clay got a personal best to continue a very good start with a 16.27m throw to add two centimetres to his earlier best 16.25m from the Helsinki Decathlon in 2005. In 100m he only missed his PB by 0.08s clocking 10.44 and then a 7.78m Long Jump was quite close too to his 7.96m PB.

Clay is now leading by a huge margin of 145 points already after three events having scored 2862 points and Oleksiy Kasyanov (UKR) who is second with 2717 at this stage having thrown a 15.15m Shot Put missing his PB only by 4cm. But the Ukrainian, who might in good position after day one, will be drop way back on day two because of his weak events discus, pole vault and javelin.

In fact Clay is very close to World record pace after three events. Roman Sebrle’s (CZE) World record is 9026 points from Götzis 2001 and the American has already scored 153pts more in the first three events than he did in his personal best series 8832 points at the Olympic Trials. This would give him 8985 total points and the next two events will decide a lot about his quest for 9000 here.

Clay cleared 2.08m in Eugene in June and has a personal best 2.09m from 2007 (2.10i indoors 2006 and 2.09m indoors this winter) and ran a 48.41 400m in his PB series. Clay’s personal best stands 47.78 from the Helsinki World Championships so there would be room for improvement in this event.

Trey Hardee (USA) is in third place after a bit disappointing 13.49m Shot Put with 2657 total points. The American has dropped back a bit and is now 65pts behind his PB series 8534p. Aleksandr Pogorelov (RUS) was the best athlete in the Shot Put with 16.53m only missing his personal best by one centimetre. But the Russian, who is now fourth with 2632, is not yet fighting for the medals and needs more personal best level performances to get closer to the top athletes.

Just 19-year-old Cuban Yordanis García has had a good start and set a personal best 15.82m in the Shot Put and now has 2612 for 5th place at the moment. Jangy Addy is 6th with 2604 and the former American, who is competing for Liberia for the first time, is on his way to break Hamdi Dhouibi’s (TUN) African record of 8023.

One of the medal favourites, Andrei Krauchanka (BLR), bettered his personal best in Shot Put by 17cm to 14.39m and is well on his way for a medal here. The Belarussian is 9th with 2584 and is only 3 points off his season’s best series 8585.

The biggest surprise of the Olympic Decathlon so far has easily been 20-year-old Cuban Leonel Suárez, who has twice this season improved the Cuban national record which nows stands at 8451p from Ratingen 21-22 June. Young Cuban, who only beat the 8000 mark for the first time last season, really doesn’t have his best events at the start of Decathlon. In the Shot Put he added a huge 60cm to his personal best getting over the 14m line for the first time with 14.49m result. This was already the third PB in as many events, he started with first career sub 11-seconds 100m 10.90s, then jumped 7.33m long jump and is now in 12th place with 2534 total points. But his best events are yet to come and he will be rising quickly on the result sheet during the last two events of the first day.

Suárez has set a personal best 2.17m in High Jump this season and has also run a very good 48.30 400m. He also very strong during the second day and will gain a lot during the last two events – his javelin PB is 71.39m and he has run a 4:16.70 1500m best this season. Suárez is competing in his first major championships and has scored 120 points more in the first three events and he did in his personal best series 8451.

Roman Sebrle (CZE) was below his own level in the Shot Put with a 14.78m best and this finally decided that the Czech World record holder is not fighting for the medals here – right now he will have trouble getting over 8000 in the competition.

2003 World champion Tom Pappas (USA) and 2004 Olympic Games silver medallist Dmitriy Karpov (KAZ), both medal candidates before the competition have called it a day and are no longer in the competition.

Mirko Jalava for the IAAF