Vasiliy Kharlamov at the 2010 European Championships (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Newcomers Savitskaya and Sviridov impress at Russian combined events championships

Relative newcomers to their respective events took the spotlight at the Russian national championships in the Heptathlon and Decatholon in Cheboksary,the capital of Republic of Chuvashiya, over the weekend.

"It was one of the most important and breathtaking championships we've seen in years. Up to the last event it was impossible to predict who would be the winner," said Sergei Zhelanov, the bronze medal winner in the Decathlon at the 1980 Moscow Olympics who us now head coach of the of the Russian national team in the combined events. The Championships proved that there are not only one or two new names on the scene, but rather that there is a kind of new wave of those who are potential medal winners at major events. In Cheboksary we were able to see our future, to see our tomorrow.

Savitskaya tallies 6681

According to a decision of the All-Russian Athletic Federation, all nine reigning World champions are already part of the national Olympic team, with no further selection criteria to be met. They are free to decide whether to take part or not to take part at the national championships. Which was why Tatiana Chernova, the World champion in the Heptaphlon, decided to instead compete at Gotzis late last month.

In her absence it was Kristina Savitskaya who won two national titles - She’ll be 21 in a week so she took the laurels in the U-23 and absolute categories. In Heptathlon she set a personal best - and the third best result in the world this season - with a 6681-point tally. Her performances: 13.52; 1.88m; 15.27m; 24.61; 6.65m; 46.83m; and 2:14.73.

The runner-up was 24-year-old Olga Kurban with 6528 points. Her marks: 13.40; 1.82m; 14.11m; 23.67; 6.46m; 42.07m; and 2:11.38). Yekaterina Bolshova, also 24, was third with a 6466 point score: 13.53; 1.91; 13.58m; 24.17; 6.45m; 37.62m; 2:10.42.

Sviridov prevails in close Decathlon battle

The battle in the Decathlon was fierce. The margin between first and third places was only 58 points. Like women's winner Savitskaya, Sergei Sviridov is only 21 and like Savitskaya he too won the overall and U23 titles with 8088 points. His performances: 10.83; 7.34m: 14.75m; 1.94m; 49.04; 15.45; 47.86m; 4.40m; 69.00m; and 4:39.49.

The experienced Vasiliy Kharlamov was second with 8059 points with Ilya Shkurenev, another 21-year-old, third with 8030 points.

Kharlamov's series: 11.38; 7.37m; 15.49m; 1.94m; 49.55; 14.83; 47.45m; 4.60m; 65.00m; and 4:39.37.
Shkurenev's series: 11.01; 7.34m; 13.24m; 2.03m; 50.15; 14.46; 41.81m; 5.20m; 56.14m; and 4:39.09.

A month ago at the Cup of Russia in Adler Sviridov scored nearly 300 more points more then in Cheboksary. But unfortunately the athletes were not lucky with the weather. The referees even had to change the schedule and the competition to get to its end after midnight. And several well-known athletes like Aleksei Drozdov, Artem Lukianenko and Aleksandr Pogorelov didn’t finish because of injuries.

And now, back to head coach Zhelanov. He is of the opinion that Sviridov will continue his rise. Sviridov is coached by his father who was a standout in the throwing events, which is why Sviridov’s technique in throwing is excellent - not a common trait among decathletes. At the moment, Sviridov weighs only about 80 kg; let’s wait and see how far he’ll go in the near future.

Nickolai Dolgopolov and Rostislav Orlov for the IAAF