The heptathlon pole vault provided a perfect illustration of the pitfalls of combined events predictions.
Ahead of this weekend, Kevin Mayer was touted as the big favourite for gold and was expected to bank big points in the pole vault, having smashed his lifetime best with 5.60m this winter.
But in reality, the pole vault put a serious dent not only in Mayer’s hopes of breaking his own European indoor record but also in his chances of winning gold.
Mayer flew well clear of the bar on his opening height of 5.00m, so it was understandable that he felt confident enough to skip the next height and pass straight to 5.20m.
Rival Damian Warner, meanwhile, got over an outright lifetime best of 4.90m. Although he went no higher, it kept him on course for a big score.
Mayer, however, failed his first attempt at 5.20m. And then his second. And – with an audible gasp from the packed Arena Birmingham – then failed his final try.
He ended the event still in first place, but with just a 34-point lead over Warner. The two men are closely matched in the final event, too; indeed, if they equal their 1000mtimes from their most recent completed heptathlon, Warner would end up winning by one point.
Locked in a battle for bronze, Germany’s Kai Kazmirek and Estonia’s Maicel Uibo pushed one another to pole vault PBs. Kazmirek vaulted 5.20m and Uibo went clear at 5.30m, meaning the gap between the pair has been reduced to 13 points going into the 1000m. Uibo will need to finish one-and-a-half seconds in front of Kazmirek to take the bronze medal.
As expected, Eelco Sintnicolaas excelled in the pole vault, matching Uibo’s 5.30m. He currently sits in sixth place behind USA’s Zach Ziemek, but is stronger in the final event.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF