On season’s bests, the top five entrants for the decathlon at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018 are separated by just 120 points.
In combined events terms, that’s equivalent to half a second in the 100m, 14 centimetres in the high jump or 40 centimetres in the pole vault – which, when spread out across 10 disciplines between two days, is not much at all.
Despite being the youngest in the field, authorised neutral athlete Stepan Kekin leads the 2018 world U20 list with 7817. The 17-year-old will be making his international championships debut.
Australia boasts two strong medal prospects in the form of Ashley Moloney and Gary Haasbroek. Moloney, who is also entered for the 4x400m in Tampere, narrowly finished ahead of Haasbroek to win the Victoria Championships title earlier this year, 7740 to 7723. Both men will be aiming to become the first Oceanian athlete to win a world U20 combined events title.
Moloney appears to have slight edge in most events, but Kekin and Haasbroek are much stronger in the latter stages of the decathlon, which could make for an exciting end to the two-day competition.
Switzerland’s Finley Gaio has also exceeded 7700 points this year, setting a national U20 record of 7717. The 19-year-old will be keen to make amends after his experience at the 2017 European Junior Championships, where he recorded three no-throws in the discus.
Makenson Gletty recently beat world U18 champion Stevan Fauvel Clinch to win the French U20 decathlon title. Gletty scored 7697 while Clinch finished second with 7455. Both athletes will be in Tampere and can be expected to feature near the top of the leaderboard.
Other contenders include USA’s Kyle Garland and German duo Andreas Bechmann and Manuel Wagner.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF