Both of last year winners are back in the Czech town of Kladno for the TNT Express Meeting, an IAAF Combined Events Challenge event, but Kazakhstan’s Dmitriy Karpov and home crowd favorite Eliska Klucinova will not have easy tasks to retain their titles this weekend (8-9).
Karpov won last year in Kladno with 8173 points and he will also have the highest bib number in the field, as they are assigned to athletes according to their personal bests, with the now 32-years old Kazakh athlete tallying and Asian record of 8725 points while winning the bronze medal at 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
“My preparation went injury free after many years, so I am looking forward to the competition. I would like to achieve at least 8200 points,” said Karpov, whose next decathlon will be at Asian Championships in Pune next month.
His strongest opposition is likely to come from Belarus national record holder Andrei Krauchanka, who won the silver medalist at the 2008 Olympic Games.
Krauchanka’s career has been affected by injuries and last year he underwent surgery, but he seems to be back in shape and in Firenze last month, at the first stop of IAAF Combined Events Challenge, he improved the meeting record to 8339 points.
Serbia’ 2013 European Athletics Indoor Championships Heptathlon bronze medallist Mihail Dudas will participate in Kladno for the first time.
“I know Czech Republic has a huge decathlon tradition, so I am looking forward to the competition. I feel in a really good shape and I will try to improve my national record,” said Dudas, who has a best of 8256 points.
Unfortunately for home fans none of best Czech decathletes will take part. Former World record holder Roman Šebrle still has problems with his heel and his great career is most likely coming to an end.
The talented Adam Sebastian Helcelet finished fourth recently at the famous Hypo Meeting in the Austrian town of Gotzis and has decided to take a rest because of a minor muscle injury.
Tyminska looking for her first win
For Klucinova, Kladno is definitely her favorite place to compete.
Three years ago, she equaled the Czech record with 6268 points and last year she bettered that mark by fifteen points.
“Both records were nice surprises for me, so I rather don´t expect another record attack and maybe I’ll let myself be surprised again,” joked Klucinova on Friday at the traditional pre-event press conference.
She finished 12th in rainy Gotzis and is looking for an improvement. “I expect better results in Hurdles, High Jump and Long Jump; and also warmer conditions,” she commented.
However, there are two heptathletes in the field with better personal bests who could spoil Klucinova’s ambition of retaining her Kladno crown.
Poland’s Karolina Tyminska has a best of 6544 points from two years ago and, after three second places in Kladno, this year she is definitely looking for a win.
“I always did well here in the past and, after last year’s injury, I don´t have any problems this time,” said Tyminska, who has an unfortunately habit of just coming up short of the biggest honours.
In addition to her Kladno frustration, she is still waiting for her first major championship medal after finishing fourth at the 2011 IAAF World Championships 2011, the 2010 European Athletics Indoor Championships and also at last year’s IAAF World Indoor Championships.
Ukraine’s Hanna Melnychenko will compete in her second Heptathlon in as many weeks and she would definitely like to improve her score of 6169 points from Gotzis, especially as she has a personal best of 6445 points.
The other heptathlete in the field with personal best of over 6000 points in the field is Greece’s Sofia Ifantidou. This year’s Czech champion Katerina Cachova is a last minute withdrawal due to back problems.
Michal Osoba for the IAAF