Ashton Eaton in the Decathlon Discus in Eugene (© Getty Images)
Olympic champion Ashton Eaton and World champion Tatyana Chernova are just two of the many names in the star-studded cast announced so far for the Hypo Meeting – the second leg of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge – in Gotzis, Austria, on 25-26 May.
Eaton, who last year broke the World Decathlon record at the US Olympic Trials with 9039 before going on to win gold at the London Olympics, will be making his first ever appearance at the prestigious combined events meeting.
The 25-year-old has already started the year in great form, having set PBs in the 200m (20.76), 400m (45.64), Shot (15.40m) and Javelin (66.64m). Compatriot and two-time World champion Trey Hardee had intended to compete at the Hypo Meeting, but has recently been forced to withdraw after picking up an injury.
Instead, Eaton’s main opposition now looks set to come from 2008 Olympic silver medallist Andrei Krauchanka, who earlier this month set a world-leading score of 8390 to win the Multistars title in Florence.
European indoor champion Eelco Sintnicolaas and European champion Pascal Behrenbruch will both be looking to make the podium again after finishing second and third respectively last year.
Other notable entries include World indoor silver medallist Oleksiy Kasyanov, Olympic fifth-place finisher Damian Warner of Canada, 2009 European indoor champion Mikk Pahapill of Estonia, and reigning World junior champion Gunnar Nixon of the USA.
Roman Sebrle, the former World record-holder whose 9026 performance is the Gotzis meeting record, will be making his 15th and final appearance at the Hypo Meeting. The 38-year-old, who struck gold at the 2004 Olympics and 2007 World Championships, has won in Gotzis on five occasions with consecutive victories between 2001 and 2005.
Aside from 2010 when he was injured, Sebrle has broken 8000 points in the Decathlon every year since 1996. In all, Sebrle owns 48 Decathlon performances over the 8000-point barrier.
Chernova prepares for Moscow title defence
At the past three editions of the Hypo Meeting, World Heptathlon champion Tatyana Chernova has been beaten by Olympic champion Jessica Ennis. But this year the Briton will be skipping Gotzis, making Chernova the outstanding favourite.
The Russian contested a handful of events earlier this month at the Russian Combined Events Cup and recorded a series of respectable performances, including 23.89 in the 200m, 13.52 in the 100m Hurdles, 1.80m in the High Jump and 6.57m in the Long Jump – farther than her outdoor season’s best last year.
But despite the absence of Ennis, Chernova may not have it all her own way. Also entered is Ukraine’s Lyudmyla Yosypenko, who finished fourth at last year’s London Olympics with a PB of 6618 – just 10 points behind Chernova’s bronze medal-winning score.
European champion Antoinette Nana Djimou, who earlier this year won her second European indoor Pentathlon title, will also be a threat, while Yosypenko’s compatriot Hanna Melnychenko has fond memories of Gotzis, having set her PB of 6445 in the Austrian town when finishing second in 2009.
Rising Heptathlon stars Dafne Schippers and Katarina Johnson-Thompson are also among the entries, with more names expected to be announced in the next week.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF