Jennifer Oeser prevails in Ratingen (© Iris Hensel)
Having missed the past two full seasons due to injury and childbirth, Germany’s two-time World Championships medallist Jennifer Oeser intends to compete at the Erdgas Mehrkampf-Meeting in Ratingen on 27-28 June, the mid-way stop of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge.
With World Championships team spots at stake, the event has naturally attracted Germany’s top combined events athletes. And there are many of them.
Oeser, who won world silver in 2009 and world bronze in 2011, won in Ratingen three times in a row between 2009 and 2011. Her score of 6663 in 2011 is the second-highest mark in the meeting’s history and is just 20 points shy of her lifetime best.
One athlete who knows what it’s like to make a comeback is Lilli Schwarzkopf. The Olympic silver medallist was forced to miss the 2013 season through injury, but returned last year to record her third career win in Ratingen, scoring a season’s best of 6426.
Joining them are the two athletes who have finished just outside the medals at the past two major championships: Claudia Rath and Carolin Schaefer.
Rath missed a medal at the IAAF World Championships by just 15 points and has finished second in Ratingen for the past two years. Schaefer, winner of the 2008 world junior title, enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2014. She produced the three best scores of her life, culminating in a PB of 6395 to finish fourth at the European Championships and ending the year in second place in the IAAF Combined Events Challenge.
Also in the field are two-time Ratingen winner Julia Maechtig and European under-23 silver medallist Kira Biesenbach.
The decathlon is just as loaded with talent with four former Ratingen winners set to compete.
Last year’s winner Rico Freimuth will return to defend his title. He will take on 2013 Ratingen winner and 2012 European champion Pascal Behrenbruch, 2012 Ratingen winner and 2008 world junior champion Jan Felix Knobel, and European indoor silver medallist Arthur Abele, winner in Ratingen back in 2007 when he was 20 years old.
World silver medallist Michael Schrader will return to Ratingen for the first time since 2008. The 27-year-old was forced to sit out 2014 due to injury.
Kai Kazmirek, the European under-23 champion, is also in the field, completing what is possibly one of the strongest domestic decathlon fields to descend on Ratingen.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF