Willem Coertzen in the decathlon pole vault at the Decastar meeting in Talence (Jean-Pierre Durand) © Copyright
Preview Kladno, Czech Republic

Clash of top African decathletes and Czech heptathletes expected in Kladno

A decathlon battle between South Africa’s Willem Coertzen and Algeria’s Larbi Bourrada is the expected highlight of TNT Express Meeting Kladno, part of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge, on Saturday and Sunday (17-18).

The heptathlon, meanwhile, could be Czech affair with national record-holder Eliska Klucinova set to face defending champion Katerina Cachova.

Bourrada is returning to Kladno after eight years and will be hoping to do better than his DNF in 2009. Since then he has become a three-time African champion and has broken the African record numerous times, raising it to 8521 when finishing fifth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

“Training is completely different,” said Bourrada, who is now training in Paris after changing his coach in February. “I just need some time to adapt, but I feel good and Kladno is an important test for me before World Championships in London.”

Coertzen briefly took the African record from Bourrada after finishing ninth at the 2013 IAAF World Championships with 8343. The 34-year-old, who was third in Kladno in 2011, improved his PB to 8398 in 2015, but he failed to finish at the World Championships later that year and at last year’s Olympic Games.

“Last season didn’t go well,” said Coertzen, who had a season’s best of 7879 in 2016. “I’ve changed my training a bit and I hope to start this one better.”

The third competitor in the field with a personal best in excess of 8000 points is Poland’s Pawel Wiesiolek, who has a PB of 8140 and recently finished 15th in Götzis.

The winners from the past two editions of the TNT Express meeting will try to repeat their successes. 2015 champion Marek Lukas, who was only three points shy of 8000 points in Götzis, will be the biggest Czech hope. Compatriot Jiri Sykora, the 2014 world U20 champion, is concentrating on the European U23 Championships, while Adam Sebastian Helcelet is a late withdrawal due to slight achilles tendon problems.

Meanwhile, defending champion Lars Vikan Rise will form a strong Norwegian duo with Martin Roe.

Klucinova aiming for fourth victory

Czech heptathletes have won at four of the past seven editions of this meeting. This year, three-time winner Klucinova and reigning champion Cachova will try to delight Czech fans once again.

Klucinova has once equalled and twice improved the national record in Kladno. Her best Kladno score, 6460 from 2014, is the second highest in the history of the meeting.

Last year the 2015 European indoor bronze medallist had to pull out of the competition because of a small injury. After finishing 22nd at the Olympic Games in Rio, she underwent shoulder surgery, which might still limit her a bit in the javelin.

“I don’t know what to expect in the last two events,” said Klucinova, who has started the season strongly with PBs in the 100m hurdles and marks close to her PBs in the high jump, shot and long jump. “I am slowly improving in the javelin in training and I didn’t train much for 800 meters.”

Cachova, the 2007 world U18 champion, set her PB of 6328 when winning in Kladno last year. This weekend she will be looking to improve on her performance from Götzis, where she finished 20th with 5963.

“I feel much better now,” said Cachova, who is yet to beat Klucinova in a heptathlon. “I tried some events last weekend in Trinec at the Czech Championships and the results were promising.”

Cachova's score from Kladno last year was in excess of the World Championships qualifying standard. In line with the stipulations from the Czech federation, she now simply has to confirm her form by scoring 6000. Klucinova, meanwhile, needs to attain the qualifying standard of 6200.

Burkina Faso’s Marthe Koala showed good shape in Götzis to surpass the 6000-point barrier for the first time in her career. She set three individual PBs on her way to scoring 6036. Koala, who competed in the 100m hurdles at the past two Olympic Games, will be contesting her third IAAF Combined Events Challenge meeting this season after competing in Florence and Götzis.

Norway will be represented in Kladno by prolific competitor Ida Marcussen. The 2006 world U20 silver medallist set her PB of 6226 back in 2007; her most recent 6000-point score came in 2014.

The Czech Championships will be incorporated into the TNT Express Meeting Kladno for the first time. Barbora and Katerina Dvorakova, the 20-year-old twin daughters of three-time world champion and Czech head coach Tomas Dvorak, will be making their senior debut in Kladno.

Michal Osoba for the IAAF