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Event Report: Decathlon – 1500m

Roman Sebrle added the one major title missing from his illustrious collection to become the first man since Daley Thompson to simultaneously hold the World, Olympic and European titles.

Holding a 44-point advantage, approximately worth six and a half seconds, on the emerging Jamaican star Maurice Smith, Sebrle ran a canny race, tracking his main rival in heat two of the 1500m.

The main two protagonists preferred to amble towards the back of the field in the early stages, with Sebrle preferring to keep a watching brief on the big Jamaican.

At the 800m mark, Smith, Sebrle and Karpov, the man in the bronze medal position were in Indian file separated by just four metres. On the penultimate lap, however, Smith started to pile on the pressure and at the 500m mark he noticeably pressed the accelerator to open up a ten-metre gap on his main rival as he started to pick up off athletes in the midfield pack.

Sebrle, however, responded to the challenge in front of a near sell-out Nagai Stadium and he too set off in pursuit of Smith.

Down the back stretch of the final lap the Jamaican made a final burst but the Czech has the situation on control.

Rounding the final bend Sebrle tried to suppress a grin knowing Smith could not open up a sufficiently large lead to overhaul him. The Jamaican crossed the line fourth in the heat in a season’s best of 4:33.52 with Sebrle, arms outstretched in triumph, one place behind in 4:35.32.

The Czech had held on for a narrow 32-point victory with 8676 points to Smith’s 8644, a Jamaican record. Karpov, of Kazahkstan, faded to tenth in heat two but a season’s best of 4:39.68 was enough to secure bronze with a total of 8586 points.

Almost unnoticed Arthur Abele of Germany picked up 800 points for winning the heat in 4:21.69.

Sebrle, 32, the oldest man in the field, was not at his absolute best throughout the two days but his sheer doggedness and will to win finally earned him his first world title, rich reward for a glorious decathlon career.
In truth the battle for the gold medal was won and lost on the penultimate event, the javelin – in which Sebrle threw a lifetime best to overturn a 221 point deficit.

Smith, 26, although heartbroken not to take gold after leading from event three until the javelin, can take huge pride from his breakthrough performance – in which he improved his personal best by a staggering 295 points - and he has thrust himself into the limelight as a truly world class multi-eventer.

Overall standings after ten events

Gold Sebrle 8676
Silver Smith 8644
Bronze Karpov 8586

Osaka 2007 News Team/sl