World and Olympic champion Nafissatou Thiam from Belgium and Canada’s Damian Warner are the overnight leaders after the first day of the 44th edition of the Hypo Meeting in Gotzis, the second leg of the 2018 IAAF Combined Events Challenge.
Thiam tallied 4112 points, propelled by a 2.01m clearance in the high jump, the highest ever in heptathlon competition and an outright world lead. Warner, who is aiming to become the meeting’s fourth four-time winner, scored 4565 after winning the 100m in 10.31, the long jump with 7.81m and finishing second in the 400m in 47.72.
Thiam on fire
Erica Bougard from the US, this year’s Multistars winner and current world leader, won the 100m hurdles with a 12.80 PB in the fifth heat ahead of her compatriot Alex Gouchenour (13.23) and world silver medallist Carolin Schaefer (13.25). Running in the fourth heat, Thiam was edged by Allison Reaser, but both were credited with 13.45. For Thiam, it was the second-fastest performance of her career.
In the high jump, her favourite event, the 2017 World Athlete of the Year was on fire, topping 1.83m, 1.86m, 1.89m, 1.92m and 1.95m on her first attempt before clearing 2.01m on her second to improve the previous heptathlon best of 1.98m she held jointly with Katharina Johnson-Thompson of Great Britain. Points-wise, the clearance, good for 1251, is the second best result ever achieved in a heptathlon competition behind Jackie Joyner Kersee’s 7.27m in the long jump at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, a performance worth 1264 points.
She ended the event with three misses at 2.04m, just one centimetre less than the Belgian record held by Tia Hellebaut.
World indoor bronze medallist Yorgelis Rodriguez finished second at 1.86m, beating Bougard on countback. Thiam carried a 100-point lead over Bougard into the shot put, 2309 to 2209.
World bronze medallist Anouk Vetter won the shot put with a personal best of 15.91m to beat Thiam, who reached 15.29m, also a lifetime best. That effort extended her lead to 224 points over Rodriguez, who threw 14.95m, also a personal best. Bougard reached 13.02m to remain in the top three with 2938. Vetter, meanwhile, climbed from 14th to fourth.
Bougard clocked the fastest time in the 200m with 23.31 to overtake Rodriguez by 36 points to move back into second. Thiam, however, ended the first day with 4112 after clocking 24.61, the third best time of her career.
“It was a perfect first day despite the hot day,” said Thiam, who has in her sights Carolina Kluft’s European record of 7032 set at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka. She is 56 points up on her first day total here from one year ago when she tallied 4056 en route to her 7013 performance, her first over the mighty 7000-point barrier.
“I don’t focus on the record. I set two PBs and we are only at the end of May. Last year I didn’t improve in the 100m hurdles and in the 200m in the first day. I had a very good feeling during the high jump. After clearing all the heights until 1.95m at the first attempt, I decided to skip 1.98m. I did not come here to reach the highest number of points but to test myself against the bar at 2.01m.”
Warner on cruise control
Warner, the Olympic bronze medallist, got his campaign for a fourth Gotzis victory off to a flying start, clocking 10.31 in the 100m, the fastest of the day, beating German Rico Freimuth (10.59) and Zach Zemek of the US (10.65).
Warner went on to set a season’s best in the long jump with 7.81m to increase his lead over Freimuth to 163 points in the overall standing. Ziemek jumped 7.43m to stay in third place.
The Canadian then threw a season’s best of 14.83m in the shot put to maintain his lead over Freimuth. The German produced a best put of 14.88m to stay in second, 14 points ahead of recent Multistars winner Martin Roe, who reached 14.99m.
World indoor bronze medallist Maicel Uibo from Estonia won the high jump, topping 2.12m on his second attempt to move up from sixth to second overall. Warner cleared 2.03m to keep his lead. Another Estonian, Karol Tilga, finished second with 2.09m to move from seventh to third.
Kai Kazmirek clocked the fastest time in the 400m with 47.27, beating Warner who clocked 47.72. Warner ended the first day with 4565 points, 218 more than Kazmirek, who moved up from sixth into second place with 4347. Uibo ranks third after five events with 4295.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF