Kai Kazmirek on the first day of the 2013 IAAF Combined Events Challenge meeting in Ratingen (© Gladys von der Laage)
Kai Kazmirek was the surprise overnight leader at the halfway point in the Decathlon with 4388 points while Kira Biesenbach is in pole position in the Heptathlon with 3701 points at the Ruhrgas DLV Mehrkampf meeting, an IAAF Combined Events Challenge competition, in the German town of Ratingen on Saturday (15).
However, there is no comfort zone for either of the two leaders as Kazmirek is ahead of his German compatriot Rico Freimuth by just nine points with another German international Norman Muller 22 points further back; while Julia Machtig just 13 points in arrears of Biesenbach and Claudia Rath is in third place another 35 points down for another all-German podium as it currently stands.
Freimuth was the quickest in the 100m in a wind-assisted 10.36 as he, and a number of other competitors, ran the fastest time of their lives thanks to a strong 5.4 metres-per-second breeze for their heat.
Simon Hechler, who was celebrating his 25th birthday on Saturday, was second in 10.54 while Kazmirek was fourth with 10.61, 0.25 faster than he had ever gone before.
The wind died down a little for the Long Jump and was a more intermittent but Hechler got the most advantage when he flew out to the best distance of 7.92m with a 2.4mps wind behind him, the longest jump of his life regardless of the wind reading.
The attentive and crowd knowledgeable crowd sang ‘Happy Birthday’ for him after his big jump and it was good enough to put him in the lead after two events with 2006 points; Freimuth was 51 points behind after leaping to a personal best of 7.55m with a legal wind on his back.
No less than seven men went further than 7.50m, with Mattias Prey second, and the former European junior champion reached a personal best and meeting record of 7.88m as Kazmirek equalled his personal best of 7.51m.
Pascal Behrenbruch, the 2012 European champion, was the best in the Shot Put with 15.89m on his first and only valid attempt, but he will be disappointed he could not go further as his personal best, set in Helsinki en-route to his gold medal, is exactly a metre better.
Freimuth sent his implement out to 14.97m and that was enough for him to take over the lead after three events with 2743 points, 23 points ahead of Hechler who achieved 13.77m.
Rene Stauss, a former German junior indoor champion in the event, was the best in the High Jump with a meeting record of 2.15m but Norman Muller made a huge improvement on his previous best of 2.04m, which he had set indoors back in 2006, when he went over 2.12m. Muller three times improved his best - going over bars set at 2.06m, 209m and 2.12m - as Kazmirek finished third with 2.09m.
After his impressive performance in the High Jump, Muller took over at the front with 3520 points after four events, leaping up from fifth place. Freimuth, who equalled his personal best with 1.94m, dropped down to second place and was 28 points behind. Hechler and Kazmirek were both in third with 3443 points.
However, Kazmirek is an outstanding 400m runner and the 2009 European Athletics Junior Championships bronze medallist showed off his talent around one lap of the track at the end of an enthralling day, stopping the clock at 47.26.
There was a huge gap to the next best, Freimuth with 48.46, and it was sufficient for the 21-year-old to take the overall lead at the end of the first day.
“It’s not unusual for me that I am finishing the first day as the leader of a competition: the first day is my strong one. I am optimistic for tomorrow. The Pole Vault should be no problem, even though I didn’t get a mark in Götzis. This was due to a problem with my technique, it shouldn’t happen again," reflected Kazmirek,
Claudia Rath got things underway in the Heptathlon with a quick run of 13.46 in the 100 Hurdles, with Carolin Schafer winning her heat in 13.54 for the second best time.
Biesenbach, still only 20, then took over the lead after two events when she added three centimetres to her best with a High Jump clearance at 1.78m, the joint best of the day along with her namesake but unrelated Bayer Leverkusen club mate Alina Biesenbach.
She had 1973 points after two events with Rath, who cleared 1.75m, just one point behind and Schafer, who also went over 1.75m, another 12 points back in third place.
Sara Gambetta was the star performer in the Shot Put, reaching a meeting record of 16.17m with both her first and second attempts. Behind her, Machtig went close to her former meeting record and personal best of 15.98m, set 12 months ago, when she put 15.79m.
Machtig’s big effort was good enough for her to take over the lead with 2791 points and she held a 94-point advantage over both Rath and Biesenbach, who put 12.97m and 12.95m respectively.
However, Biesenbach regained the lead after running the fastest 200m of the day with a meeting record 23.76, while Rath was the second fastest 24.26. Machtig’s 24.89 was almost a second down on her best but still quick enough to keep her in second place overnight.
“In the Hurdles and the High Jump, I had a great start to the day. In the Shot, I could have been better, but you can always say that about some disciplines and in the end it doesn’t change anything. I love the crowd in Ratingen, I love having the attention on me. I had a good first day and I hope that it’ll go on like that," said Biesenbach.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF