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Previews26 May 2016

Kazmirek and Theisen-Eaton out to defend their titles in Gotzis


Brianne Theisen Eaton at the 2015 Hypo-Meeting in Gotzis (© Jean-Pierre Durand)

Last year’s winners, Germany’s Kai Kazmirek and Canada’s Brianne Theisen-Eaton, will return to the famous Mosle Stadium to defend their titles at the Hypo Meeting in Gotzis, part of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge, on Saturday and Sunday (28-29).

Kazmirek and last year’s world championships decathlon bronze medallist Rico Freimuth will lead a strong German contingent to the famous Mosle Stadium, which also features 2015 European indoor championships heptathlon silver medallist Arthur Abele and 2008 world junior champion Jan Felix Knobel.

Germany dominated the decarthlon at the 2015 edition, filling three of the top four places.

Kazmirek set what was then world-leading mark of 8462 points, just nine shy of his personal best set in 2014 when he finished second to Trey Hardee in Gotzis, before going on to finish sixth at the 2015 IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015.

Freimuth will compete for the sixth time in his career in Gotzis. Last year he finished fourth with with 8380 points, just 18 away from a place on the podium, and in Beijing  he won the bronze medal with a personal best of 8561.

Gotzis is a special place for the Freimuth family, as his father Uwe won here in 1985 and 1988.

The German team will be also represented by 20-year-old Tim Novak, who finished third at both the 2013 European junior  championships and 2014 world junior championships.

Warner aiming for second victory

Canada’s 2015 world championships silver medallist Damian Warner will be looking to win at this meeting for the second time. In 2013, he scored 8307 points for victory in Gotzis and then went on to finish third at the world championships in Moscow.

Warner, whose national record is 8695 points from Beijing last August, could potentially threaten the Commonwealth record of 8847 set by Great Britain’s Daley Thompson, when the latter won at the 1984 Olympics, if he can maintain his recent good form. He recently ran a wind-assisted 100m in 10.09, the 400m in a personal best of 46.54 and the 110m hurdles in 13.42.

South Africa’s Willem Coertzen will be looking to improve his third place achieved last year when he broke the African record with 8398 points while Belgium’s Hans Van Alphen will return to Gotzis four years after his outstanding win with his personal best of 8519.

Now 34, the Belgian went on to finish fourth at the London 2012 Olympic Games but has had to battle with injury problems since then.

Reigning world junior champion Jiri Sykora, from Czech Republic, will make his second appearance in Gotzis while others in the decathlon field include Cuba’s 2005 world youth octathlon champion Yordani Garcia, France’s 2014 European sillver medallist Kevin Mayer and the Netherlands’ 2015 European under 23 champion Pieter Braun.

Theisen Eaton returns to Gotzis after winning the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 pentathlon title in March.

She has won in Gotzis in 2013 and 2015. Last year, the Canadian broke her own national record heptathlete with a score of 6808 points here and went on to win her second consecutive world championships silver medal.

German challenge

Theisen-Eaton will renew her rivallry with Germany’s Carolin Schafer, 2008 world junior and 2009 European junior champion, who finished second with a personal best with 6547 last year.

Claudia Rath, who finished second in the 2015 IAAF Combined Events Challenge will compete for the no less than the seventh time in the Mosle Stadium. The German finished fourth at the 2013 world championships when she set her current personal best of 6462 points.

Two established stars of the German multi-events scene, Lilli Schwarzkopf and Jennifer Oeser, will also fight for a place on the plane to Rio.

Schwarzkopf won the 2012 Olympic silver medal with 6649 points but ruptured her Achilles tendon in Talence one month later. She made a remarkable comeback when she finished fifth at the 2014 European Championships.

Oeser won the world championships silver medal on home soil in Berlin in 2009 and took the bronze two years later in Daegu.

She came back last year from maternity leave and finished 10th in Beijing.

Laura Ikauniece-Admidina, from Latvia, should also be in contention for a place in the top three after wining the world championships bronze medal last summer with a personal best of 6516 points.

Can KJT win again?

Great Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson will return to the venue where she won her first big meeting in 2014 setting her personal best of 6682 points. She went on to win the 2015 European indoor pentathlon title with 5000 points, the second best score in history.

Great Britain will be also represented by 18-year-old reigning world junior heptathlon champion Morgan Lake.

The traditionally strong Dutch contingent will feature Nadine Visser and Anouk Vetter.

Visser, a training partner of Dafne Schippers, set her heptathlon best of 6487 points when she finished fifth in Gotzis last year, one place ahead of Vetter, who also set a career best with 6458.

Belgium’s 2013 European junior champion Nafissitou Thiam will be looking to improve on her fifth place at the 2014 Hypo Meeting when she set a national record with 6508.

Ukraine’s 2013 world champion Hanna Kasyanova will return to Gotzis, where she finished second in 2009, hoping to post a good score after several years of injury problems.

The star-studded field also features France’s two-time European champion Antoinette Nana Djimou, USA’s indoor pentathlon record holder Sharon Day Monroe as well as Lithuania’s 2004 Olympic silver medallist and 2012 world Indoor championships pentathlon bronze medallist Austra Skujte and this year’s Florence Multistars winner Vanessa Spinola, from Brazil

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF