Martin Roe in the decathlon 110m hurdles at the IAAF Combined Events Challenge meeting in Florence (© Organisers)
Defending Multistars decathlon champion Martin Roe and 2016 heptathlon winner Vanessa Spinola will face a strong field when they return to Italy for opening leg of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge this weekend (27-28).
This year’s Multistars meeting has moved from Florence to the Sudtyrol town of Lana and will feature eight decathletes with PBs in excess of 8000 points and five heptathletes who have bettered 6000 points.
Roe, world ranked No.3 in the decathlon, set a Norwegian record of 8228 when winning last year and went on to finish sixth at the European Championships with 8131.
This weekend he will be making his third Multistars appearance and will take on a strong German contingent led by 2016 world indoor bronze medallist Mathias Brugger, world ranked No.27 in the decathlon, and 2014 world U20 silver medallist Tim Nowak, world ranked No.10 in the decathlon. Both men set their lifetime bests last year, Brugger scoring 8304 to finish fifth in Götzis and Nowak scoring 8229 to finish third in Talence.
Adam Sebastian Helcelet will continue the Czech Republic’s strong tradition. The 2016 European silver medallist will be making his return from injury, having not completed a decathlon since 2017, the year he set a PB of 8335 and finished eighth at the World Championships.
Compatriot and 2015 European U20 champion Jan Dolezal, world ranked No.21 in the decathlon, will be looking to improve on the 8067 PB he set when finishing eighth at last year’s European Championships.
Brazil will be represented by two former Multistars champions: 2011 winner Luiz Alberto de Araujo and 2017 victor Jefferson Dos Santos. De Araujo, world ranked No.58 in the decathlon, finished 10th at the 2016 Olympics with a PB of 8315 while Dos Santos, world ranked No.24 in the decathlon, set his best with a wind-assisted 8187 when winning the 2017 South American title.
Italian hopes will be carried by Simone Cairoli, who finished 10th at the 2018 European Championships with a PB of 7949. Cairoli, who works part time at a sportswear shop called Decathlon, finished third at Multistars in 2015 and second in 2017.
Spinola takes on Agnou and strong US duo
Three years after winning the Multistars heptathlon title with 6100, Brazil’s Vanessa Spinola, world ranked No.56 in the heptathlon, will be bidding to win again. The 29-year-old set a lifetime best of 6188 in 2016 and finished 23rd at the Olympics later that year but hasn’t bettered 6000 points since then.
With a PB of 6330 set when winning the 2017 European U23 title, Caroline Agnou has the highest score of the heptathlon entrants. The Swiss 22-year-old missed the 2018 summer season but made a low-key return indoors earlier this year.
Over the past 10 years a score of 6000 points has usually been sufficient for a place on the Multistars heptathlon podium and two US women in this year’s field are capable of that.
Alison Halverson, world ranked No.36 in the heptathlon, finished fifth at Multistars last year and went on to score a PB of 6144 in Götzis one month later. Annie Kunz, world ranked No.63 in the heptathlon, set her PB of 6038 at the 2016 and more recently fifth in the pentathlon with 4243 at the US Indoor Championships two months ago.
France’s 6015 performer Diane Marie Hardy, world ranked No.40 in the heptathlon, and Barbora and Katerina Dvorakova, twin daughters of three-time world decathlon champion Tomas Dvorak of the Czech Republic, will also be in Lana this weekend.
Lana, a small town in the north Italian region of Trentino Alto Adige, has something of a combined events tradition as it is the home town of Italian heptathlon record-holder and 1999 Multistars champion Gertrud Bacher.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF