Morgan Lake in the heptathlon javelin at Multistars in Florence (© Organisers)
Young British heptathlon and high jump star Morgan Lake will return to Florence for the Multistars Trofeo Zerneri Acciai, the Italian leg of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge, on 28-29 April.
Lake made a major impact on the international stage when she won the heptathlon at the 2014 edition of the Multistars meeting at the age of 17, adding more than 400 points to Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s British U18 record with a score of 5896 in her first ever senior heptathlon with senior implements.
She became the youngest winner in the long history of the Italian meeting, which also launched the careers of fellow Britons Johnson-Thompson and Jessica Ennis-Hill. All three athletes set national age-group records at Multistars.
Ennis-Hill, now retired, won this meeting when it was held in Desenzano del Garda in 2007 with a British U23 record of 6388, following it with a victory in 2009. Johnson-Thompson finished third at this meeting in 2012 with a national U20 record of 6007.
After her Multistars victory in 2014, Lake went on to win world U20 titles in the high jump and heptathlon in Eugene. She scored a personal best of 6148 in the heptathlon, which included a British U20 high jump record of 1.94m in the high jump. Lake added the European junior high jump title to her growing collection in Eskilstuna the following year.
At the Rio Olympic Games she equalled her lifetime best of 1.94m in the qualifying round, becoming the first British athlete to reach the Olympic high jump final since 1992.
Lake, who opened her outdoor season earlier this month with a 41.50m javelin throw, will face a heptathlon field which also features the winners of the past two editions and seven women with a personal best in excess of 6000 points.
Colombia’s Evelis Aguilar has the best PB of the field and could start as favourite. She set a national record of 6270 in Cali last year and came close to matching it at the Olympic Games when finishing 15th with 6263. Already this season she has set big PBs of 6.61m in the long jump, 14.01m in the shot put and 13.4 in the 100m hurdles.
Yana Maksimava, the 2013 European indoor silver medallist, will be making her Multistars debut. The 28-year-old Belarusian has a heptathlon PB of 6198.
Greece’s Sofia Yfantidou and Brazil’s Vanessa Chefer (nee Spinola), the winners of the past two editions of the Multistars, will also return to Florence.
Yfantidou won in 2012 with 6109 and in 2015 with 5900. A strong javelin thrower, Yfantidou set a meeting record in that event with 55.72m in 2012. Her PB in that discipline, 57.50m, was set during her lifetime best heptathlon score of 6113 in 2015.
Chefer won the Multistars title in 2016 with 6100, while Yfantidou finished third with 5953.
The South American contingent is strengthened by Brazil’s 2012 world U20 bronze medallist Tamara De Souza, who has a personal best of 5962, and Puerto Rico’s Alysbeth Felix, who set a national record of 6124 last year in Cali.
The USA will be represented by Lindsay Schwartz, who improved her personal best to 6036 at last year’s US Olympic Trials, and Allison Reaser, who has a career best of 5990. Two-time Italian champion Federica Palumbo completes the line-up.
The men’s field includes two decathletes with a personal best in excess of 8000. France’s Gael Querin returns to the Multistars meeting, hoping to do better than his past two appearances. The 29-year-old placed fifth in 2010 and failed to finish in 2014 but went on to set a lifetime best of 8194 later that year at the European Championships.
Sweden’s Marcus Nilsson will be competing at the Multistars meeting for the first time. The 25-year-old took bronze at the 2010 World U20 Championships and set a PB of 8104 in 2013.
Italian hopes will be carried by Simone Cairoli, who finished 12th at the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade last month. The two-time Italian champion made a breakthrough at the 2015 Multistars meeting when he finished third with a personal best of 7611.
The other Italian in the field is Michele Calvi, who finished fourth at the 2013 Multistars meeting with a PB of 7500.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF