Roman Sebrle of Czech Republic during the Heptathlon Pole Vault (Getty Images) © Copyright

Sebrle’s bid for fourth Olympic appearance takes centre stage in Kladno – Preview – IAAF Combined Events Challenge

Kladno, Czech RepublicDecathlon World record holder and 2004 Olympic champion Roman Šebrle will be again the biggest star of TNT Fortuna meeting in Kladno, Czech Republic this weekend. The 37-year-old’s main goal is to reach 8200 points and to qualify for his fourth straight Olympics. Šebrle's biggest rival at this IAAF Combined Events Challenge meeting should be Dmitriy Karpov from Kazakhstan, the winner in Desenzano last month.

Šebrle gave up his first attempt for the Olympic standard in Götzis before 400m race because of his low scores in first four events and competed during the second day only for training purposes. Now he expects his shape to be much better.

"Usually my second Decathlon in the season is better than the first one, but definitely 8200 points is my goal," he said at the pre-event press conference.

Šebrle competed in all four previous editions of TNT Fortuna meeting and he holds the meet record 8697 points from 2007. This year he will compete for the first time without help of his coach Dalibor Kupka, who guided him for ten years. They split after Götzis and now Šebrle is looking for a new coach as he plans to end his career after 2013.

Karpov is also a traditional participant in Sletište stadium and is aiming to improve his score from Desenzano, where he achieved 8172 points.

"I also hope for 8200 points or more and I would like to stay healthy. And my third goal is to throw over 55 meters in javelin," he said with a smile. Karpov also plans to come back to the Czech Republic for a training camp before the Olympic Games in London.

But Šebrle could expect tough competition also from his country mate. Adam Sebastian Helcelet, who is coached by Šebrle´s former rival and three times World Decathlon champion Tomáš Dvorák, is hoping for his first ever score over 8000 points.

"I had a great first day in Götzis, but unfortunately I made a mistake during the 110 meters Hurdles and was disqualified," said the 20-year-old Helcelet who was born two weeks after Šebrle finished his first decathlon.

The start list features five more decathletes with personal bests over 8000 points: William Coertzen from South Africa, who this year already achieved 8244 points in Port Elizabeth; former World junior silver medalist Eduard Mikhan from Belarus; U.S. based Lithuanian Darius Draudvila; and former European junior champion Roland Schwarzl from Austria.

Heptathlon: Local star Klucinová the one to beat

In the women’s Heptathlon, the start list is more modest. The 'poster girl’ of this year´s edition, Tatyana Chernova, in the end decided not to compete, so the highest starting bib 6268 symbolizing her personal best will be carried by Eliška Klucinová. She will compete at her home stadium, as she started with athletics in Kladno (about 20 km from Prague) and achieved her PB and Czech record at this meeting in 2010.

After foot surgery last year she was forced to miss the rest of the season and competed for the first time after long break in Götzis.

"I had a great first day there, but then I felt very tired on Sunday and everything went wrong. But the positive thing is that I didn´t feel any pain in my foot," she said.

Ida Marcussen from Norway will also look for a better result than in Götzis, where she finished 25th with 5706 points. Blandine Maisonnier from France is another candidate for the podium after finishing second in Desenzano.

A strong team is coming from Great Britain, even though the biggest star Jessica Ennis is missing: third from Desenzano, the indoor World junior record holder Katarina Johnson-Thompson and 2010 Commonwealth Champion Louis Hazel. Other rising stars competing in Kladno are medallists from last year´s European under 23 championships in Ostrava Katerina Cachová from Czech Republic and Yana Maksimava from Belarus.

This year’s meeting will be held for the first time on Saturday and Sunday, so organisers are hoping for a bigger crowd than last year. The weather forecast promises a sunny Saturday, but some showers are expected on Sunday. "But the forecast changes twice a day, so I am optimistic," Šebrle said.

Michal Osoba for the IAAF

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