The second and last day of the “Decastar” IAAF Combined Events Challenge meeting didn’t provided any real surprises for the Decathlon and Heptathlon winners: Roman Sebrle 8326pts and Eunice Barber with 6675pts. However, their wins weren’t as easy as it seemed, since Sebrle was pushed all the way by a strong performance from Aleksandr Pogorelov, while Eunice Barber injured her right leg during the morning before the competition started.
HEPTATHLON - Barber ‘injured’ scores 6675
After four events yesterday, French Eunice Barber led with 3941, from Kelly Sotherton (GBR) 3797, Natalya Dobrynska (UKR) 3698 and Virginia Miller (USA) 3697.
Barber was expected to start the second day on a very good note in the Long Jump, since she won the World title in this event in 2003. In Talence, she jumped 6.72m (wind +3.2), good enough to allow her to make the careful choice of passing her two other attempts. During the warm-up, Barber had felt a violent cramp in her right hamstring while performing stretching exercises. After some strides, the cramp transformed into a muscle tear, in the same area as her 2004 injury.
Ukrainian Lyudmila Blonska fought back for second place in the Overall standings thanks to a 6.49m jump, while Miller maintained her level with a leap of 6.45. Olympic bronze medallist Sotherton lost ground due to a low 6.39m. Dobrynska, usually not at her best at the Long Jump still managed 6.17, however, she made up with this loss of points with a 45.70m Javelin Throw.
However, it wasn’t enough to prevent Barber winning her fourth individual event (100m Hurdles, High Jump, Long Jump and Javelin Throw) with a fine series: 42.92m, 47.66m, and 46.52m. Sotherton’s 34.79m brought her overall position down to 5th with 5337, before the 800m where she is usually the fastest.
Blonska’s 45.57m and Miller’s 40.46m throws tied them with 5364 for third place. Second place was with Dobrynska on 5377. For all these athletes, the suspense endured until the last race. Barber, however, with 5835 feared no one but her own body.
As expected, Sotherton was in a class of her own during the 800m, in 2:11.60, with Barber finishing a distant 7th in 2:18.79.
“I competed with one and a half legs today,” confirmed Barber. “If it had happened earlier this season, I would have withdrawn at the first pain signal, but here I had nothing to lose.” She finishes a great season, highlighted by a national record with 6889 in Arles, a World Championships silver medal in the Heptathlon and bronze in the Long Jump in Helsinki, followed by this 6675 victory in Talence.
“Actually, this competition finishes on a bad note”, said her coach Claude Monot. “We came here with the aim of having a good time, high performances, and this injury cut our project short. But I’m satisfied by the way Eunice competed, applying conscientiously the technical advice I had given, and keeping herself relaxed during difficult moments”.
Kelly Sotherton finally took second place after an Heptathlon with many “frustrations”, with 6278, just as Lyudmila Blonska who was given 3rd place, since the Ukrainian compiled less individual victories than Sotherton.
DECATHLON - Sebrle overcomes Pogorelov’s tough opposition
The Olympic champion and World record holder Roman Sebrle finished the first day of the Decathlon with the small margin of only 37 points over Russian Aleksandr Pogorelov.
However, statistics showed that Sebrle’s second day is usually better than Pogorelov. But the Russian started to close the gap after the 110m Hurdles, the first event of the day, with 14.25 versus 14.47 for Sebrle. Both were the only contenders for first place by this time since Jamaican Maurice Smith was already a distant third overall.
The Discus Throw didn’t help separate the two leaders, since Pogorelov threw the implement 45.83m, only 66cm further than Sebrle.
The Pole Vault started with a disaster for Smith who failed to pass 4.00m. Sebrle was satisfied by his 4.80m jump, but the overall lead was now with Pogorelov after he jumped 5.10m.
However, the last two events, Javelin Throw and 1500m were expected to favour Sebrle. The World record holder showed all his experience by reaching his very best level with a 66.05m throw, some 8m further than Pogorelov, and finally secured his win during the 1500m by finishing in 4:47.76, 10 seconds ahead of his Russian rival.
So Sebrle won the Decathlon with 8326, far from his usual standard, but still better than his 2004 victory in Talence (8217). Pogorelov gained 1 point compared to the 8246 total which gave him 5th place in Helsinki at the World Championships last month.
Tomas Dvorak placed 8th, missing by only 4 points 8000 points for the 35th time of his long and successful career, while Romain Barras for 5th place scored his 5th 8000+ score this year.
P-J Vazel for the IAAF
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