Kevin Mayer in action at the Meeting de la Reunion (© Ilop Prod )
Kevin Mayer and Cassandre Aguessy Thomas are the overnight leaders in the decathlon and heptathlon, respectively, at the Meeting de la Réunion, the opening competition of the 2021 World Athletics Challenge - Combined Events series, in St. Paul on the French Indian Ocean island of Réunion.
In his first decathlon appearance since last year's World Championships where an injury knocked him out of the competition in the pole vault, Mayer tallied 4350 points to lead compatriot Makenson Gletty by 286 points while Thomas, this year's French champion, collected 3641 to lead Ukraine's Hanna Kasyanova by 78.
Mayer led from the outset, winning the 100m in 10.68 for 933 points ahead of Gletty who clocked 10.81 for 903. Mayer sailed 7.40m in the long jump, the second farthest of the day, to extend his lead to 100 points, before padding it further with a 16.20m effort in the shot put, again the best of the competition, garnering 806 points. He topped 1.97m in the high jump before capping the day with a 48.87 run in the 400m.
"I'm a little rusty," the world record-holder told Athle.fr. " I had a great day with some friends, I had a lot of fun. I'm a little below what I usually do, but it is December, so we must not panic." Mayer's goal is to secure the 8350 Olympic qualifying standard.
Gletty, 21 and a relative newcomer to the event, performed consistently across most events, reaching 15.37m in the shot put, the third best on the day, and topping 2.00m in the high jump, one of four men to clear that height, before wrapping up with a 50.79 in the 400m for a 4064 point day one tally.
Italy's Simone Cairoli, a six-time national champion and the architect of the viral ‘quarantine decathlon’, is in third with 4060. The 30-year-old, a 2.07m jumper at his best, also topped 2.00m before ending the day with a 49.04 run, to move up four spots in the standings.
Taavi Tsernjavski of Estonia is fourth with 4043, just ahead of Frenchman Ruben Fado, who tallied 4032.
Ukraine's Oleksiy Kasyanov’s ambitions to secure a qualifying standard for a fourth Olympic appearance, soured in the long jump where the 35-year-old, twice a world indoor silver medallist in the heptathlon, failed to produce a measured jump.
In the heptathlon Thomas opened with a lifetime best 13.54 performance in the 100m hurdles, the second best of the morning, before taking the lead for good after a 1.77m clearance in the high jump, another personal best, worth 941 points. She reached 13.14m in the shot put before ending her day with a 24.65 dash over 200m.
Kasyanova, the 2013 world champion, opened the day with a 13.71 clocking in the sprint hurdles, the day's third fastest, and dipped to fourth overall after a 1.74m clearance in the high jump. A 13.65m effort in the shot put moved her up to second before a 25.20 clocking over the half lap gave her 3563 points for the day.
Evelis Aguilar of Colombia closed the day well, winning the 200m in 24.02 to move up from sixth to third, 10 points back with 3553. Anaelle Nyabeu Djapa of France is fourth, another nine points back with 3544, with Mari Klaup of Estonia fifth with 3518.
European U23 champion Geraldine Ruckstuhl trails the field in eighth with 3165 points.
Bob Ramsak for World Athletics