Just 76 points separate the top five decathletes at the end of the first day of the Stadtwerke Ratingen Mehrkampf-Meeting, while there’s just 52 points between the top two heptathletes at the IAAF Combined Events Challenge meeting in Ratingen.
In a dramatic decathlon in which many of Germany’s leading all-rounders are hoping to impress selectors for the host nation’s European Championships team, Manuel Eitel finds himself as the surprising overnight leader. The 21-year-old tallied 4220 points, putting him three points ahead of two-time Ratingen winner Arthur Abele and on pace for a PB.
Fellow Germans Ituah Enahoro, Florian Obst and Tim Nowak are all close behind and end the day within 80 points of the leader. It would have been even more competitive had the likes of Kai Kazmirek, Luca Wieland and Dennis Hutterer not had to withdraw.
Eitel, who has represented Germany in the 100m at international age-group championships, unsurprisingly posted the fastest time in the opening event of the decathlon. His 10.47 clocking was just 0.07 shy of the meeting record and gave him an early lead.
Enahoro set a PB of 10.63 in second place while Wieland (10.84) and Abele (10.85) set season’s bests.
Wieland closed the gap on Eitel in the long jump as they produced marks of 7.61m and 7.37m respectively. Enahoro, who jumped a PB of 8.01m earlier this year, had to make do with 7.45m while Obst and Abele both leaped 7.28m.
After a lacklustre 100m, world bronze medallist Kazmirek was similarly below par in the long jump, managing just 6.92m.
Abele, aiming to complete his first decathlon since 2016, made significant progress up the leader board after setting a PB of 15.93m in the shot, the best mark of the day. Obst’s 15.54m was also a PB, keeping him in fourth place overall.
Eitel set a PB of 14.31m, but Wieland threw 14.84m which was enough to take him into the overall lead. Kazmirek set a season’s best of 14.19m, but withdrew from the competition soon after, explaining that he had suffered with illness in the lead-up to the event.
Wieland, a 2.20m performer at his best, had looked forward to extending his lead in the high jump and he was unsurprisingly the last man left in that event. He cleared 2.01m and 2.07m with ease, then got over 2.10m and 2.13m. The bar was moved up to 2.16m, a would-be meeting record height, but then disaster struck as Wieland injured his left thigh on his second attempt. Although he ended that event in the lead, the injury signalled the end of Wieland’s decathlon.
Eitel recorded a solid 1.92m and Abele got over 1.89m. Nowak moved up the standings thanks to his 2.04m clearance.
Eitel ran a PB of 49.09 in the 400m to regain the lead after the final event of the first day. Abele finished strongly too, a 48.40 clocking taking him into second place overall.
Enahoro was the quickest of the field with a 47.91 PB, bringing his day-one tally to 4199, just 21 points shy of Eitel. Obst and Nowak also produced sub-49-second runs to end the day in the top five with scores in excess of 4100 points.
Of the five men packed into the top of the leader board at the end of day one, Abele appears to be strongest in day two’s events. Nowak also has the potential to move up a few places, while Eitel, Enahoro and Obst are very closely matched in the final five disciplines.
Although he won’t feature in the overall standings, world champion Kevin Mayer is competing in a select handful of events in Ratingen and has shown promising form. He set a 100m PB of 10.66, threw 15.86m in the shot – the second-best outdoor mark of his career – and then came within 0.07 of his lifetime best in the 400m with 48.33.
Dadic chasing Schafer
World silver medallist Carolin Schäfer has held the overall lead since the first discipline of the heptathlon, but she hasn’t necessarily dominated the competition.
She clocked a season’s best of 13.13 in the 100m hurdles, crossing the line in a dead heat with fellow German Louisa Grauvogel, who last weekend earned the silver medal at the NCAA Championships.
Austria’s Ivona Dadic finished a few places behind, but her 13.56 clocking was a personal best.
Schäfer produced the best high jump mark of the day with 1.78m. Dadic and Anna Maiwald cleared 1.72m while Grauvogel was close behind with 1.69m.
In Götzis last month, the shot proved to be Schäfer’s undoing as she recorded three no-throws. She fared much better in Ratingen with three valid attempts, but her best of 13.53m was more than a metre down on her PB.
The rest of the field unsurprisingly made up ground in the overall standings. Arndt moved up from 10th to fifth with her throw of 15.06m, the best mark of the day, while Celina Leffler went into third place overall after throwing a PB of 14.89m.
Dadic set a big PB of 14.86m to move into second place, just 49 points behind Schäfer. Grauvogel dropped from second to sixth overall, but was happy with her PB of 13.22m.
Grauvogel, who has already completed three heptathlons and three pentathlons this year during a busy collegiate campaign, showed no sign of fatigue in the final event of the first day. The 21-year-old sped to a big PB of 23.36 to win the quickest 200m heat, taking her into third place overall.
Schäfer clocked 23.73, almost half a second down on the meeting record she set last year, but enough to maintain her overall lead with 3828 points. World indoor silver medallist Dadic finished close behind with 23.76 to keep the pressure on her German rival, while Arndt set a PB of 23.70 to move up one place into fourth.
Just 166 points currently separate the top six heptathletes, but Schäfer and Dadic can be expected to pull away from the other four women in tomorrow’s three disciplines. The top two are closely matched in the long jump and javelin, so the competition could all come down to the 800m, where Dadic is stronger. Anything could still happen, though, such is the nature of the combined events.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF