Australians Cedric Dubler and Sophie Stanwell were crowned the combined events winners on Friday (1) at the Australian Championships in Sydney, which also served as the opening round of the 2016 IAAF Combined Events Challenge.
Dubler also clinched a place on the team for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, winning his national title while also achieving the Olympic qualifying standard. His final score of 8114 was a massive personal best by more than 300 points.
“It’s been a big two days,” Dubler said. “I’m in the shape of my life at the moment.”
Stanwell was locked in a close battle with New Zealand’s Veronica Torr coming into the second day of the heptathlon. The Australian led by two points after the first day, but Torr took the lead by seven points with a 5.83m to 5.80m victory in the long jump. Unfortunately, she was unable to continue after that, handing victory to Stanwell.
Dubler, the world junior silver medallist, had improved to 7785 in the senior decathlon at the start of the year. In Sydney he showed right from the first event – a 100m personal best of 10.71 – that he was in the mood for further advances.
In a first-day score of 4348, the 21-year-old had three personal bests, and went within two centimetres of a fourth in the long jump.
Following on from his 100m personal best, Dubler jumped 7.72m in the long jump, threw a modest 11.93m in the shot put, then closed out the day with two more personal bests, 2.15m in the high jump and 48.47 in the 400m.
The blitz continued into the second day which opened with three more outright bests: 14.25 in the 110m hurdles, 42.81m in the discus and 4.90m in the pole vault.
The Olympic qualifying mark was by now coming into sharp focus. After throwing 53.29m in the javelin, he was already within 259 points of his PB and he still had one event to go. A 4:55.71 clocking in the 1500m did the trick and brought his tally to 8114.
It would not be a decathlon 1500m, though, without some hint of drama and Dubler alarmed his supporters when he was slapping at his quad muscles as he came down the straight on the first lap.
“I was getting cramp in both legs,” he explained. Thankfully, the cramps remained at a low level of irritation.
Dubler is now certain to be nominated to the Australian team at the conclusion of the championships.
“It’s the dream of every athlete to make an Olympic team,” said Dubler. “When I was 14 years old I was dreaming about it.” Now the dream is about to become reality.
Jake Stein, Dubler’s predecessor as world junior silver medallist, took second place with a PB of 7643 ahead of David Brock and New Zealander Brent Newdick.
With Torr sidelined after the long jump, Stanwell was pretty much unchallenged in the heptathlon. A modest 33.28m javelin was largely responsible for the final winning margin being within 100 points. As she did throughout the competition, Stanwell was able to run her way out of trouble. She won the 800 in 2:18:15, almost a full second ahead of Kiara Reddingius, and scored 5572 to take the victory.
Stanwell was equal third-fastest in the 100m hurdles, and won both the 200m and 800m. She won the high jump and was second to Torr in the long jump and shot put, more than compensating for her modest performance in the javelin.
Sydney is the first of 11 competitions comprising the 2016 IAAF Combined Events Challenge. From Australia, the series moves to Africa for the African Combined Events in Reduit, Mauritius on 2-3 April.
Len Johnson for the IAAF