Luiz Alberto De Araujo from Brazil and Margaret Simpson from Ghana will return to Desenzano del Garda to defend last year’s Multistars title in the traditional season-opener of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge on 5-6 May.
The Italian Combined Events Challenge meeting will also be highlighted by former Olympic bronze medallists Dimitry Karpov from Kazakhstan and Kelly Sotherton from Great Britain, who will make her return to combined events after an attempt to focus on the individual 400m and 4x400m Relay. The meeting also features British rising-star Katharina Thompson, the IAAF World Youth champion in Bressanone 2009.
Men’s Decathlon -
Last year De Araujo improved his PB by 42 points to win in Desenzano with 7858 points. Later in the season the decathlete from San Caetano, who was sixth at the World Junior Championships in Beijing 2006, improved his PB again to 8115 points in Sao Paulo last August and finished 16th at the World Championships in Daegu with 7902 points.
De Araujo will take on Athens 2004 Olympic bronze medallist Karpov who started his career with a promising win in Desenzano in 2003 when he scored 8253 points, then a national record. Later in the same year he won World bronze in Paris with 8374 points setting another national record. Four years later he won his second World bronze medal in Osaka 2007. In 2004 he finished third in Götzis with 8512 points and won the Olympic bronze medal with 8725 points, still his PB. In 2006 he won in Ratingen and Talence and finished second in Götzis and ranked first in the IAAF Combined Events Challenge. In 2008 Karpov won the World indoor bronze medal in Valencia and scored a close win in Götzis with 8504 points.
The other top name able to score more than 8000 points in his career is New Zealand’s Brent Newdick who set his lifetime best last year at the Hypo-Meeting in Götzis with 8114 points. Newdick has already competed this year in Melbourne on 14 April scoring 8057 points, which ranks him fourth in the world seasonal list. Newdick finished second in Desenzano last year with 7780 points.
The field features Belgium’s Cedric Nolf, fourth at the 2011 World University Games in Shenzhen with 7818 points; Great Britain’s Ashley Bryant, fifth in the same Shenzhen competition with his PB of 7789 points; Austrian Roland Schwarzl (PB 8032 points), tenth at the 2004 Olympic Games and second in the Multistars in 2009; Rifat Artikov from Uzbekistan (PB 7975 points); and Italian William Frullani, European Under 23 bronze medallist in Amsterdam 2001.
Women’s Heptathlon -
Simpson made a successful comeback last year in Desenzano when she scored her third win in her favourite Multistars meeting with 6270 points (throwing the javelin to 53.81m in the process). The powerful heptathlete from Ghana, who trains at the IAAF Technical Centre in Mauritius, has already made her debut this season at the African Combined Events Championships in Mauritius where she scored 6184 points.
Kelly Sotherton’s return to the Heptathlon after an attempt to focus on the 400m will certainly grab the headlines in Great Britain. Sotherton started her Heptathlon career in Desenzano in 2002 where she finished ninth with 5734 points. The Briton went on to win the Olympic bronze medal in Athens 2004 with 6424 points and the World bronze medal in Osaka 2007 with 6510 points. She also won the World Indoor silver medal in the Pentathlon in Valencia 2008 and three European Indoor silver medals (two in the Pentathlon in 2005 and 2007 and one in the 4x400 in 2011).
Great Britain, which has produced Denise Lewis, Kelly Sotherton and Jessica Ennis who all competed in Desenzano in the past, has a bright future in the Heptathlon thanks to 2009 World Youth Champion Katharina Thompson who recently missed Carolina Klüft’s World junior indoor record by nine points with 4526 points last March in Cardiff.
Thompson, who competed last year in Desenzano, has already been compared to 2009 World champion Ennis who famously won twice in Desenzano in 2007 and 2009. Thompson, who cleared 1.88m in the high jump in the process, set the third best indoor performance in Great Britain behind Ennis and Sotherton. Thompson won the World Youth title in Bressanone in 2009 with 5750 points and set her Heptathlon PB last year scoring 5787 points at the European Junior Championships in Tallin where she finished sixth.
The line-up is completed by 2003 World Youth champion Marisa De Aniceto (PB 6080 points) and Blandine Maisonnier (PB 6157 points set in Arles 2008) from France, Brazil’s Lucimara Da Silva (PB 6133 points), third at the 2007 Panamerican Games in Rio de Janeiro and Norway’s Ida Marcussen, 2006 World Junior silver medallist in Beijing.