Both the decathlon and heptathlon competitions at the Talence Decastar were decided in the final events in a thrilling end to the 2016 IAAF Combined Events Challenge season on Sunday (18).
Oleksiy Kasyanov of Ukraine and Nadine Broersen of the Netherlands emerged as the winners in contests that were both settled by less than ten points.
In the decathlon, overnight leader Pierce LePage was fifth fastest in the day’s opening event, the 110m hurdles. The 20-year-old prospect clocked 14.69, which meant the Canadian remained in the lead but saw his advantage cut from 171 points to 95 over Kasyanov, whose 14.08 was the fastest of the day.
Estonia’s Maicel Uibo stayed in third courtesy of a 14.86, while Czech Adam Helcelet moved up to fourth with 14.44.
Kasyanov hacked another chunk out of LePage’s lead in the discus. After fouling his first attempt, the two-time world indoor silver medallist went out to 45.26m to lead the field. LePage produced a best of 40.79m, and while it was enough to retain the lead, his cushion was now just four points.
Uibo’s 43.50m meant he stayed third, while Helcelet stayed fourth overall after a 43.22m.
LePage responded in the pole vault, where the organisers invited the crowd to sit on the track, creating a buoyant atmosphere. He cleared 4.86m to Kasyanov’s 4.46m to establish a 124-point lead in the overall standings.
The event’s outstanding performer was Belgium’s Niels Pittomvils, who set a PB of 5.36m to lead the field and move fourth. Third-place Uibo cleared 4.96m to cut the gap on second to within 200 points.
Kasyanov lost further ground on LePage in the javelin as the Canadian produced another PB. His 48.88m was better than Kasyanov’s tired-looking 47.94m, and gave him a 138-point lead. Uibo, on the other hand, looked like a growing force: he went out to 59.91m to tie Kasyanov with 7322 points going into the final event.
That left things fantastically poised for the 1500m finale. LePage took up a position at the back of the strung-out pack, and after the first lap was out of touch. It meant the winner would be either Uibo or Kasyanov, and with 200 metres to go it was still in the balance.
In the end it was Kasyanov who found the extra gear, rallying to finish in 4:28.42 ahead of Uibo in 4:29.37. That left Kasyanov with a season’s best of 8077, just six points ahead of Estonian Uibo.
“It’s an incredible feeling to win,” said Kasyanov. “It’s not been a very good year for me – I didn’t finish at the Olympic Games and didn’t show myself well at the European Championships.
“I’m happy that I could get this result and also complete the competition.”
Though LePage was disappointed with his 4:58.77 time in the 1500m, he was not with his final score of 8027, a personal best that underlines his great potential.
Broersen finds delight on day two
At the start of the second day, Nadine Broersen was in fourth and 130 points behind overnight leader Yorgelis Rodriguez. The 2014 world indoor champion wasted little time in closing the gap.
In the day’s opening event, the long jump, she flew out to 6.38m, the second best mark of the field and just one centimetre off her personal best. With Rodriguez producing only 6.34m, the gap was already cut to 85 points.
Germany’s Claudia Rath moved third with 6.50m, the best jump in the field. After fouling her first two attempts, 2015 Talence winner Gyorgyi Zsivoczky-Farkas recorded 6.05m, seeing her drop from second to fourth overall.
Broersen then moved into the overall lead in the javelin, again finding her best form with her final throw, going out to 51.77m. Rodriguez could only produce 45.83m and so fell from the lead for the first time since the second event.
France’s Antoinette Nana Djimou Ida produced a 51.33m second-round effort to move third overall. Rath was delighted with her PB of 43.65m, which meant she clung to fourth ahead of Zsivoczky-Farkas, who threw 44.41m.
In the 800m finale the 30-point lead Broersen held was worth a little over two seconds, and from the gun she set about sticking to Rodriguez, who owned a season’s best close to three seconds better than the Dutchwoman’s.
The gap after the first lap was less than a second. By 600m Rodriguez had three-yards worth of daylight but wasn’t pulling away. She crossed the line in 2:15.73. A gasping Broersen was just behind in 2:17.64. It was just about close enough: she retained the lead by just four points to take the win with a season’s best of 6377.
“I wanted this so bad. I’m so happy,” said a beaming Broersen, who on Friday picked up a groin injury that put her participation in doubt.
“Today the long jump was good, javelin was good, the 800 was not so good, but it was enough to win here. It’s amazing.”
Behind the leading two, Rath produced the fastest 800m of the day (2:09.06) to finish third with 6310 ahead of 2015 Talence winner Zsivoczky-Farkas, who ended with 6248.
Though the results had no impact on the overall IAAF Combined Events Challenge standings – Kai Kazmierk and Carolin Schafer are now confirmed as the 2016 winners – it was a fittingly gripping end to an eventful combined events season.
Thomas Byrne for the IAAF