Rico Freimuth in the decathlon pole vault at the Stadtwerke Ratingen Mehrkampf Meeting (Gladys Chai von der Laage) © Copyright
Report Ratingen, Germany

Freimuth and Schäfer take top honours in Ratingen

World bronze medallist Rico Freimuth showed he is back to his best at the Stadtwerke Ratingen Mehrkampf Meeting on Sunday (25), winning the decathlon at the IAAF Combined Events Challenge meeting with a world-leading PB of 8663.

Meanwhile, German compatriot Carolin Schäfer confirmed her good form by winning the heptathlon by almost 500 points with 6667, just 169 points shy of the PB she set one month ago in Götzis.

Freimuth held a two-point lead over Grenada’s Kurt Felix at the end of the first day, but he significantly extended his margin in the first event of the second day, winning the 110m hurdles in 13.87.

Fellow German Kai Kazmirek clocked 14.62 to temporarily overtake Felix in the overall standings after the Grenadian ran 14.92.

Freimuth then added more than a metre to his discus PB, throwing 51.56m to once again finish ahead of Felix, who managed 50.59m. With three events to go, the German had extended his lead to 154 points.

Felix slipped down to third overall after the pole vault, having cleared 4.50m. Kazmirek’s 5.20m proved to be the best vault of the day, while Freimuth was once again in PB form, equalling his lifetime best of 4.90m.

But Felix rebounded in the javelin, throwing a PB of 72.80m to break the meeting record and move back into second place. Freimuth threw a season’s best of 62.33m to maintain his overall lead while Kazmirek remained on course for a podium finish after throwing 60.52m.

With a 115-point margin going into the final event, Freimuth’s lead was relatively safe. He duly covered the 1500m in 4:37.04, his fastest time for four years, to bring his winning tally to 8663, adding more than 100 points to the PB he set when taking the bronze medal at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015.

His winning score missed the competition record by 38 points and is the second-best winning mark at the Stadtwerke Ratingen Mehrkampf Meeting after Roman Sebrle’s 8701 victory in 2002.

Freimuth didn’t complete a decathlon last year after an inflamed shoulder tendon and torn calf muscle interrupted his training ahead of the 2016 season. But the 29-year-old showed much promise in Götzis last month, finishing third with 8365, and then built on that momentum with his performance in Ratingen.

“Today I really wanted to attack the world lead and produce a gutsy run in the 1500m,” said Freimuth, who won in Ratingen in 2014. “I succeeded.”

Felix held on for second place, smashing his PB with a score of 8509. Kazmirek was third with 8478, the second-best score of his life behind the 8580 PB he set to finish fourth at last year’s Olympics. It was the first time that two men had bettered 8500 and three men had exceeded 8400 in Ratingen.

Schäfer scores 6667

Having set two PBs on Saturday to hold the overnight lead, Schäfer produced the second-best marks of her life in the first two events on Sunday to extend her lead with each round.

First up was the long jump, which she won with 6.37m. Nadine Visser, her closest rival, managed 6.07m to fall a further 94 points behind the German.

The margin was even more pronounced in the javelin after Schäfer threw 50.34m, almost 10 metres farther than Visser’s 41.15m. It meant that Schäfer went into the final event, the 800m, with an unassailable lead of 463 points.

Schäfer could have afforded to take it easy in the 800m, but she put in a strong effort to cross the line in second place in 2:17.56, bringing her winning score to 6667, the second-best mark of her career. It was also the third-best heptathlon in Ratingen, bettered only by 1997 winner Sabine Braun (6787) and last year’s winner Jessica Ennis-Hill (6733).

Visser stayed in close enough contact with Mareike Arndt in the 800m to hold on to second place with 6183. Arndt took third place with a PB of 6106.

Germany’s two-time world silver medallist Jennifer Oeser, who had been in fifth place overall from the second event onwards, did not line up for the 800m and announced her retirement from athletics shortly afterwards. The 33-year-old set her lifetime best of 6683 when taking bronze at the 2010 European Championships.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF