Overnight leader Maria Vicente knew she had to extend her lead in the first heptathlon event of the second day if she was going to challenge for the gold medal.
Her biggest rival, Germany’s Johanna Siebler, had superior PBs for the final two events, so Vicente had to play to her strengths in the long jump. The Spaniard did exactly that and flew out to a lifetime best of 6.05m, adding 17 centimetres to her previous PB.
But Siebler was also in PB form and jumped 5.78m to hold on to second place overall. Teammate Marshella Foreshaw, having seemingly recovered from her ankle troubles the day before, was close to her best with 5.71m to remain in medal contention.
Latvia’s Eliza Marija Kraule and Lithuania’s Urte Bacianskaite jumped 5.70m and 5.83m respectively to end the event in fourth and fifth on the leaderboard.
Then came the event Siebler had been waiting for: the javelin.
Although she was more than four metres short of her PB, Siebler’s 44.50m throw was the second-best mark of the day and gave her points tally a significant boost.
Vicente, meanwhile, was five metres shy of her modest PB, managing just 30.90m. It meant that Siebler was within 10 points of Vicente with just the 800m to go, an event in which Siebler’s PB was five seconds quicker than the Spaniard’s.
Siebler’s task was simple: finish 0.7 ahead of Vicente in the 800m to grab the gold medal.
Bacianskaite gave herself a fighting chance of a medal after adding four metres to her javelin PB with 42.45m. The Lithuanian headed into the 800m knowing that she needed to finish within 11-and-a-half seconds of Foreshaw to hold on to the bronze medal.
As the gun went off for the 800m, Siebler played a dangerous game by sitting off the leading pace as Vicente was strategically tucked right behind her. Foreshaw, meanwhile, employed the opposite tactic and went out hard behind Ukrainian duo Tetyana Bilyk and Darya Dikhanova in an effort to grab third place from Bacianskaite.
Bilyk and Dikhanova were first to cross the line, but were far from the medal positions. Instead, all eyes were focused further up the home straight on Siebler and Vicente, who were now locked in a sprint finish for the line. Siebler was unable to open up the 0.7 gap she needed and the pair crossed the line almost in unison, Siebler running 2:33.19 to Vicente’s 2:33.22.
In simple terms, it meant that Vicente had held on to pole position and had become Spain’s first global combined events champion. She scored a PB of 5612, while Siebler earned silver with 5602.
Foreshaw crossed the line in 2:28.10 and had a nervous wait as Bacianskaite finished. The Lithuanian had achieved her target, running 2:36.87 to secure the bronze medal with a score of 5467, 37 points ahead of Foreshaw.
“I didn’t expect that kind of support from the crowd,” said Vicente. “They kept pushing me to better myself.”
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF