Czech champion Katerina Cachova and Norwegian Lars Vikan Rise produced personal bests on their way to winning the 10th edition of the TNT Express meeting in Kladno on Saturday (11), part of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge.
Cachova was the overnight leader and her win was never in danger during the second day. She improved her three-week-old lifetime best by 43 points to 6328 and moved to the sixth on this season's top list.
Rise, meanwhile, left it much later, securing his victory in the last two events with a total of 7925. This was the 27-year-old's second victory at an IAAF Combined Events Challenge meeting this season after winning the Multistars in Florence, where he scored 7868.
The second day of the heptathlon started in rainy and cooler conditions than were present on Friday. In the opening event, the long jump, Cachova improved on every attempt, but her best leap of 5.99m was still 28 centimetres shy of her result three weeks ago, when she set her previous PB of 6285.
Hopes for improving the Czech record of 6460, held by Eliska Klucinova, were gone, but Cachova comfortably remained in the lead.
Only three women were able to jump beyond six metres, two of them from Great Britain; Katie Stainton in group B leapt 6.03m, while Morgan Lake went one centimetre farther. The best jumper in the field was Alysbeth Felix from Puerto Rico – all three of her attempts would have been enough to win the competition, with her longest leap being 6.20m.
In the javelin, Cachova increased her lead, her best throw of 45.11m enough for second place behind Ekaterina Voronina of Uzbekistan, the reigning Asian champion, who produced 48.16m.
With one event to go, Cachova led by 281 points over Yana Maksimava from Belarus, and the 26-year-old local favourite needed to run 2:16.30 or better to improve her overall PB. While the title seemed secure, the fight for second place remained wide open with only 13 points separating Maksimava, Karolina Tyminska from Poland and Morgan Lake from Great Britain.
Cachova finished sixth in the 800m, and not content with coasting to victory, she improved her lifetime best to 2:13.18.
“I am enjoying competing again," said Cachova afterwards. "It's a big difference compared to previous years."
A world youth champion in 2007, Cachova had struggled with back problems in recent years and underwent knee surgery two years ago. This year at the Czech Championships, she finished her first heptathlon since June 2013. “It was not easy, but I always knew I could come back if I stayed healthy,” said Cachova.
Her score in Kladno was 132 points shy of the Czech record set by Klucinova two years ago at the same meeting.
Tyminska tried to secure second place by winning the final event in 2:10.81, but it was not enough to overtake Maksimava, who fought bravely and finished second, only 0.36 behind, in 2:11.17. The time was the second best ever for Maksimava and enough for her to stay second overall with 6076, holding off Tyminska by just one point. Tyminska already ended up second in Kladno on four occasions, but now has finished third for the second year in a row.
Two more heptathletes surpassed the 6000-point barrier: Katsiaryna Netsviatayeva from Belarus scored 6007 and, in her first time over the illustrious barrier, Alysbeth Felix improved her PB from 5910 to 6003. Sixth place went to Lake with 5951, her best since winning the world junior title in 2014.
Rise comes from behind to take title
Last year's winner in Kladno, Marek Lukas of the Czech Republic, had a great start to the second day when he won the 110m hurdles in 14.27, a personal best which helped him to move up from seventh to third. Overnight leader John Lane from Great Britain clocked 14.58 and increased his cushion to 138 points over Argentinian Roman Gastaldi, who was only two points ahead of Lukas.
Lane lost his lead in the discus after throwing just 37.59m, which was enough only for 13th place in the 15-man field. With that, Lane lost his chance of achieving the Olympic standard of 8100.
European junior champion Jan Dolezal from the Czech Republic produced the best throw of 48.52m, improving his lifetime best by 1.53m and moving him to first position. Lane was still 42 points behind. The second best performer in the discus was 2009 European indoor champion Mikk Pahapill from Estonia with 47.08m.
Dolezal added his third personal best in a row in the pole vault after clearing 4.60m to consolidate his position at the head of the standings. Lane had higher expectations in what was one of his favourite events, and he vaulted 4.70m to remain in second place. There was no jump over five metres, with Benjamin Gregory of Great Britain winning the pole vault with 4.90m.
The margin between the leaders was reduced to only 13 points after eight events, but the ninth event produced a major change in the standings. Lukas, who has a personal best of 73.28m from 2013, confirmed the javelin as his favourite discipline, throwing 68.96m to launch himself into contention for the overall title, but Lars Vikan Rise moved up to first place with 66.82m.
Dolezal threw 53.07m and slipped down to fourth after the penultimate event, while Lane had only one valid attempt of 41.30m, the shortest in the field. As a result, the overnight leader decided not to start in the final event.
Before the 1500m, Rise knew he had to finish less than five seconds behind Lukas to maintain his overall lead. Lukas tried to push on the last lap, but Rise seemed to have the situation under control. Lukas crossed the line third in 4:35.05, and Rise was just behind in 4:36.74 to clinch the overall win with 7925.
“I tried to stay as close as possible, but Lukas was very strongon the last lap," said Rise. "My coach also told me I need to run under 4:37 for an overall personal best."
Rise's previous lifetime best was 7918, set in Kladno two years ago, and the venue once again produced its magic for him on Sunday. “It's my favourite meeting," he said. "My next competition will be the European Championships in Amsterdam. That's my goal. I did a lot of work last season and this is a year I would like to grow and go for 8000."
Runner-up by 22 points was Lukas, who improved his PB from last year by 11 points to 7903.
By far the fastest in the last event was Edgars Erins from Latvia, who broke the meeting record with 4:14.49, but that was only good enough to help him to ninth place on 7643.
Pahapill ran 4:43.45 to tally 7814 points in his first decathlon since Talence 2014 and take third. The 20-year-old Dolezal was fourth, with four personal bests helping him to a total of 7730, which added 23 points to his lifetime best.
Michal Osoba for the IAAF