Local star Katerina Cachova produced a strong second day on Sunday (18) to successfully defend her title at the TNT Express meeting in Kladno, part of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge, while pre-event favourite Larbi Bourrada of Algeria dominated the decathlon with a score of 8120.
Cachova was fifth after the first day, 218 points behind her compatriot Eliska Klucinova, after clearing only 1.68m in the high jump. But on Sunday, the 2007 world U18 champion produced her best ever second-day performance by long jumping 6.51m, throwing 46.75m in the javelin and running 2:13.05 in the 800m to improve her heptathlon PB by nine points.
“It feels great to achieve a PB despite such a poor result in the high jump,” said Cachova. “I know I am in good shape, I just need to perform more stable.” Had the 27-year-old matched her 1.82m high jump from last year, she could have challenged Klucinova’s national record of 6460.
Three-time meeting winner Klucinova lost her overall lead after the javelin, but she was delighted with second place and a World Championships qualifying standard of 6285.
In a high standard competition with six women exceeding 6100 points for the first time ever in Kladno, three national records fell.
In third, Burkina Faso’s Marthe Koala scored 6230 to add almost 200 points to the national record she set in Götzis last month. Benin’s Odile Ahouanwanou added 380 points to her own national record with 6131 in fifth place, while sixth-placed Lucia Slanickova improved the Slovakian record to 6103.
While fourth-placed Lecabela Quaresma missed the Portuguese record by 56 points, she was nevertheless delighted to improve her PB from 5802 to 6174.
A strong tailwind brought with it some huge leaps in the long jump, the first event of the second day. Cachova impressed with 6.51m (3.0m/s), 11 centimetres farther than her personal best from 2008, and moved to the third place overall.
Slanickova, who this year has returned to combined events after focusing on the 400m hurdles for the past four years, produced the second-best result of the competition with a wind-legal 6.31m. A 6.22m (2.1m/s) jump meant Koala narrowed the gap to 69 points behind Klucinova, who jumped 6.20m.
Cachova continued on a high note in the javelin. Her 46.75m was the second-best mark of her career behind the 47.47m PB she set in 2009 and moved her up to first place overall. Klucinova, throwing for the first time in competition since her shoulder surgery last September, produced 39.15m and was visibly in pain after her attempts.
With a best of 47.56m, 17-year-old Anna Kerbachova was the top performer in the event. Coached by former sprinter Frantisek Ptacnik, the Czech heptathlete trains in the same group as Klucinova and Slanickova.
Before the 800m, Cachova had a 26-point lead over Klucinova and needed to run 2:13.74 to improve her heptathlon PB of 6328. She achieved her goal, crossing the finish line in third place in her heat in 2:13.05.
Britain’s Niamh Emerson was the fastest in the field with 2:10.63, but the 18-year-old had earlier recorded three fouls in the long jump.
Klucinova, who wasn’t able to train much for the 800m in recent months, finished in 2:14.88, her fastest for three years.
African 1-2 in decathlon
Having built up a comfortable lead on the first day, Bourrada’s first place was never in danger during the second day. The Algerian tallied 8120, the first 8000-point score in Kladno for three years, and became the first African athlete to win in the Czech city.
“I wanted to do better, but my goal is to perform well in London,” he said. “I was in Algeria for two weeks and we had Ramadan. It made me a bit tired, but I am glad I’ve finished the decathlon here.”
Willem Coertzen from South Africa finished second with 7804, followed by Norwegian duo Martin Roe (7741) and Lars Vikan Rise (7470).
Bourrada increased his lead to 229 points after recording 14.26 in the 110m hurdles, the best time of the day. Coertzen was the second fastest, his 14.53 helping to reduce the gap on Roe to 33 points.
Coertzen overtook Roe by one point in the discus after topping the event with 42.56m. Defending champion Rise was second with 42.50m, while Bourrada threw 40.89m to maintain his sizeable lead.
Bourrada managed to clear 4.80m in the pole vault, 20 centimetres higher than at last year’s Olympic Games where he finished fifth. Coertzen dropped in the overall ranking after a clearance of just 4.20m, but the South African record-holder bounced back in the penultimate event, winning the javelin with 66.77m ahead of Roe (63.65m) and Bourrada (62.49m).
Bourrada is one of the top 1500m runners among the world’s elite decathletes, but he struggled slightly in Kladno. Nevertheless, he comfortably held on to his lead after crossing the line in fourth place in 4:32.34.
“We had very little time to rest between the pole vault, javelin and 1500m, so I had cramps during the 1500 meters and I even wanted to stop after the first lap,” said Bourrada.
Coertzen’s time of 4:31.11 was good enough to move into second place overall, 63 points ahead of Roe, who clocked 4:47.35.
Michal Osoba for the IAAF