Australian decathlete David Brock in action in the high jump (© Getty Images)
While most eyes were on 2011 world youth champion and 2012 world junior silver medallist Jake Stein, another promising youngster emerged to take the decathlon overnight lead in the first leg of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge in Melbourne on Thursday (3).
David Brock – not long out of the junior ranks himself (he turns 20 later this year) – put out a strong first-day performance to tally 3936 points, 59 ahead of the defending Oceania champion, Nicholas Gerrard of New Zealand.
Stein languished back in sixth place after day one, some 230 points adrift of the lead. He has a strong second day based on his prowess in the javelin and discus. He may need every bit of that to take the victory.
Another New Zealander, Portia Bing, led the heptathlon after the first day. Bing’s 3530 points put her comfortably ahead of Australian rival Sophie Stanwell’s 3352.
In the decathlon, Brock was solid throughout the day, taking ground off most of the other contenders in four of the five events. He opened with 11.12 in the 100m, second-fastest in that event, and followed with the third-best long jump performance of 7.12m.
After his one moderate event, a 12.89m shot put, Brock responded with 2.01m in the high jump and a 50.63 clocking in the 400m to round off day one.
By contrast, the shot was the one event in which Gerrard gained a significant points advantage on Brock. His 14.73m was topped only by Stein’s 14.77m, and was almost two metres farther than the overnight leader.
Gerrard’s 7.14m long jump was also second-best of the main contenders, but a 1.89m high jump saw him concede a significant edge to Brock.
As always, the first day claimed some unexpected victims, notably the event’s most experienced competitor, New Zealand’s Commonwealth silver medallist Brent Newdick, who failed to finish the 400m.
Like Stein, Sophie Stanwell will be looking for a strong second day to bridge the gap to overnight leader Bing.
The New Zealander, who was fifth at the 2012 World Junior Championships and has a 119-point edge over Stanwell based on PBs (5774 to 5655), was stronger in the shot put and high jump than when setting her PB last year, but lost ground in the hurdles and the 200m.
Bing’s half-way mark of 3530 is her best ever day-one score, eight points up on PB pace.
Stanwell, by comparison, came close to her PBs in the hurdles and shot put, but was some way below her best in the high jump and 200m.
The under-20 contests are also serving as the selection trial for the Australian team for the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships in Oregon.
The overnight leader in the men’s decathlon was Cedric Dubler, from David Thomson and Lachlan Calvert, while Alysha Burnett and Casidhe Simmons were leading the women’s heptathlon.
Burnett and Simmons have already achieved the Australian selection standard for Oregon 2014, while the men are chasing a score of 7150 to qualify for selection.
Len Johnson for the IAAF