The anticipated two-way battle between Germany’s Maximilian Kluth and France’s Steven Fauvel Clinch fizzled out after one decathlon discipline at the IAAF World U18 Championships Nairobi 2017.
FauvelClinch sped to a 10.82 (1.3m/s) lifetime best in the opening event, the 100m, while Kluth wasn’t too far from his own PB with a solid run of 11.44. But Kluth, the highest decathlon scorer this year among the entrants in Nairobi, picked up a slight injury before the long jump got underway and withdrew from the competition.
After an opening effort of 6.99m, Fauvel Clinch flew out to a huge lifetime best of 7.38m with his second jump to extend his overall lead. In Kluth’s absence, German teammate Leo Neugebauer leapt into contention with a 7.25m PB, while Latvia’s Olegs Kozjakovs, another medal contender, entered the fray after leaping a PB of 6.89m.
Despite being the youngest in the field, Kozjakovs was the star of the next event, the shot put. With his final effort, the Baltic youth decathlon champion sent his 5kg sphere out to 18.06m, adding more than a metre to his lifetime best and smashing the championship best by 79 centimetres.
Fauvel Clinch held on to his overall lead, though, by the slender margin of 33 points after throwing 14.09m in the shot, just nine centimetres short of his PB. Neugebauer’s chances took a bit of a hit, however, with the German more than a metre down on his lifetime best with a throw of 14.51m, but he ended the event in third place overall.
The high jump was disrupted by a break in proceedings in the hope that the heavy rain would ease off. After two hours, with the weather not much kinder than it was when the action was paused, athletes returned to the high jump apron to complete their remaining attempts.
Fauvel Clinch had initially brushed the bar off with his final attempt at 1.90m when the rain was at its heaviest, so officials allowed him to retake his final jump when the competition resumed. The result was the same, though, and he had to make do with a best of 1.87m.
With the bar at 1.93m, Kozjakovs went clear on his first attempt to take the overall lead in the competition. He then went on to equal his PB of 1.99m to open up a 74-point lead on his French rival. Neugebauer, meanwhile, also closed the gap after equalling his PB of 1.93m.
Lining up for the 400m almost 12 hours after their decathlon started, Fauvel Clinch came back fighting in the final discipline of the day, determined to regain his lead. He comfortably won his heat and took a big chunk off his PB with a clocking of 49.09.
Kozjakovs and Neugebauer both trimmed their personal bests down to 51.39 and 52.41 respectively to remain in medal contention, but the Latvian surrendered his lead. Fauvel Clinch ended the day in pole position with 4084, 31 points ahead of Kozjakovs. Neugebauer is third with 3842, one point in front of Spain’s Jorge Davila.
France’s Florian Fourre ended the first day in seventh place with 3538 points, but some of his best events – in particular the final three on the second day – are yet to come and he could challenge for a spot on the podium.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF