Spurred on by a busload of chanting fans, Estonia's Erki Nool marked a personal best of 8672 points and took the highest step of the podium in the Götzis Hypomeeting this weekend, the first major appointment of the newly-introduced IAAF World Combined Events Challenge.
Nool won five of the ten decathlon events and finished 80 points ahead of the reigning world champion in the discipline, 26 year-old Thomas Dvorak of the Czech Republic. Nool's previous best performance was achieved when he won the 1995 Götzis meeting with 8575 points.Iceland's Jon-Arnar Magnusson was a close third with 8573 points.
Nool's points total was especially boosted by good performances in the long jump (7.88m for 1030 points) and pole vault (5.30m for 1004 points). Dvorak's best mark came in the 110m hurdles and javelin, with 13.84 for 995 points and 70.64 for 899 points, respectively.
With Denise Lewis (GBR) sidelined due to an ankle injury and Germany's Sabine Braun forced to withdraw after the first event, the 100m hurdles, due to an injured foot, the two favourites for the heptathlon were out of the competition, but Russia's Irina Belova came back from fourth place in the final event, the 800m and stormed her way to victory with an astounding 2:05.42.
She broke away from the rest of the pack going into the first bend and stayed ahead throughout the race, finishing seven seconds and some 40 metres ahead of second-placed Marie Collonville (FRA) to score 1033 points, taking her total to 6466 and wiping out the lead established by Germany's Peggy Beer, relegated to third place with 6382 points and Urszula Wlodarczyk of Poland who finished the competition second with 6423 points.