Tatyana Chernova of Russia celebrates with her country's flag after claiming gold in the women's heptathlon during day four (Getty Images) © Copyright
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World Champion Chernova the star in Talence; Suarez late entry - IAAF Combined Events Challenge

15 September 2011Traditionally the Decastar meeting in Talence is one of the last international Combined Events meetings of the year. The meeting, which was first organized in 1976, will also conclude the IAAF Combined Events Challenge competition this year.

The IAAF Combined Events Challenge was first held in 1998 and is since an important competition for the combined events athletes. The scores of three international top meetings are counted together to measure the standings for these series. This year the meetings counting for the Challenge includes the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, the Universiade in Shenzhen and European Cup finals. Furthermore the results of high class invitation meetings as Desenzano, Götzis, Kladno, Ratingen and the USA national championships are included the 2011 series.

Although the organizers in Talence, a town in the South West of France in the Bordeaux-region, limit the number of participating athletes it is always an attractive meeting. The small “stade de Thouars” is hosting every day more than 5,000 spectators.  On Sunday, during the Pole Vault competition, spectators are allowed to sit next to the runway, which gives an extra dimension to the meeting. The spectators really feel as though they can touch the athletes.

This year 15 athletes will start in the men’s Decathlon and 12 in the women’s Heptathlon coming from 15 different countries.

Leonel Suarez - Late Entry

At the very last moment the organizers of the Decastar meeting received the confirmation of another top star: Leonel Suarez, bronze medallist at the World Championships last month in Daegu, confirmed his participation in Talence.

The current leader in the IAAF Combined Events Challenge is now the big favourite in the men’s event and also for the overall standings for the 2011 Challenge.

The medal winners of the World Championships in Daegu – Trey Hardee, Ashton Eaton – have ended their season, leaving the athletes who finished behind them the possibility to aim at challending Suarez in the Decastar.

Aleksey Drozdov (RUS), Eelco Sintnicolaas (NED), Pascal Behrenbruch (GER) and Mikk Pahapill (EST) respectively fourth, fifth, seventh and ninth in Daegu guarantee an interesting competition. It is difficult to announce a real favourite among them, as they finished in Daegu all within a margin of less than 150 points.

With Oleksey Kasyanov (UKR), Andrei Krauchanka (BLR) and Romain Barras (FRA) three more athletes with a personnel best over 8000 points are on the start list. Krauchanka did not finish a Decathlon this year, but the silver medallist of 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and European indoor champion 2011 is eager to finish the 2011 season with a top position on the world decathlon list.  

The home crowd in the stadium will give extra attention to Romain Barras, the 2010 European champion. This year so far he did not manage to reach his 2010 level, but with little improvements to his Deagu result he will bring himself in a top position in Talence.

Further athletes on the list of participants are: Hans van Alphen (BEL), Hamdi Dhouibi (TUN), Ryan Harlan (USA), Eugene Martineau (NED), Gaël Querin (FRA), Andres Raja (EST), Igor Sarcevic (SRB), and Frederic Xhonneux (BEL).

Chernova Vs Dobrynska

The 2011 World champion Tatyana Chernova, who won also this year in Kladno and finished 2nd in Götzis, tops the list in Heptathlon. The Russian athlete improved her personnel best performance to 6,880 points. Already as a junior she was very talented in heptathlon, but after her junior time the result improvements stocked till this year.  With her score in Daegu she proved that scores in the 7,000 points region are now within her limits.

Another outstanding participant in Talence is Ukrainian athlete Tatyana Dobrynska. The 2008 Olympic champion finished fifth at the World Championships, but she has proven in the past that she can maintain the top performances till the end of the season.

An important outsider is Polish Karolina Tyminska, fourth in Daegu where she scored a lifetime personnel best of 6,544 points.

Other athletes in the field are: Sara Aerts (BEL), Anna Bogdanova (RUS), Laura Ikauniece (LAT), Ida Marcussen (NOR), Jessica Samuelsson (SWE), Lilli Schwarzkopf (GER), Bettie Wade (USA), Lyudmyla Yosypenko (UKR), Jessica Zelinka (CAN).

IAAF Combined Events Challenge

The current leader in the combined events challenge in decathlon, Suarez is likely to strengthen his number one position. A battle for the next positions in the standings can be expected from Pascal Behrenbruch, Eelco Sintnicolaas and Mikk Pahapill.

In the women’s heptathlon Tatyana Chernova is leading ahead of Jennifer Oeser and Karolina Tyminska. Most probably they will also rank the final top three, although Natalya Dobrynska is an athlete to keep an eye on during the weekend.  


Hans van Kuijen for the IAAF