In a repeat of the situation 12 months ago, Germany’s Kai Kazmirek and Canada’s Brianne Theisen-Eaton are the overnight leaders after the first day of the Hypo-Meeting in Gotzis, the third leg of the 2015 IAAF Combined Events Challenge, on Saturday (30).
Sadly, world champion and world record-holder Ashton Eaton was a late withdrawal due to a back injury sustained during a shot put training session on Thursday.
Kazmirek, sixth at last year’s European Championships, is the decathlon leader after five events with 4409 points, just ahead of US indoor heptathlon champion Jeremy Taiwo, who has 4388 points, with Germany’s Rico Freimuth third with 4331.
Canada’s Damian Warner, the 2013 Gotzis champion and 2014 Commonwealth champion, flew to 10.37 in the opening 100m event, finishing ahead of Freimuth who ran 10.53.
Warner kept his lead with 1973 points after leaping 7.63m in the long jump, the second-best jump of the day and just three centimetres behind event winner Michael Schrader, who reached 7.66m.
Freimuth was still second in the overall ranking after two events, 60 points behind Warner with 1913, while 2009 Gotzis winner Schrader was third after two events with 1908.
But Warner’s dream to clinch his second Gotzis title ended after had three fouls in the shot put.
Freimuth set a personal best with 15.47m to take the overall lead with 2732 points as Schrader put 14.31m to move up to second place with 2655 points.
Taiwo, lying eighth after the shot put, is a good high jumper and cleared 2.15m to take over the lead after four events. The US athlete was 27 points ahead of Kazmirek, who jumped 2.08m, while Freimuth dropped to third after clearing a more modest 1.91m.
Fast 400m puts Kazmirek into the lead
However, Kazmirek clocked the fastest time in the 400m with 47.30 to overtake Taiwo after five events by just 21 points.
Taiwo, who ran 48.29, has an advantage of 57 points over Freimuth, who maintained third place with a run of 48.70.
Schrader, competing in his first decathlon since his World Championships silver medal in Moscow two years ago, is fourth with 4303.
“It was a solid day with no ups and downs," said Kazmirek. "I am used to ending the first day in the lead. Tomorrow, I will try to keep my leading position."
World silver medallist Theisen-Eaton, who also won in Gotzis two years ago, leads the heptathlon with 4031 points ahead of European 100m and 200m champion Dafne Schippers, who finished one place behind her Canadian rival in Moscow, with the Dutchwoman in second place with 3995 points.
Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill is third after four events with 3928 points.
Germany’s Cindy Roleder, the European 100m hurdles bronze medallist, won in her favourite event and was the only woman to run faster than 13 seconds, running 12.99.
The Netherlands’ world junior 100m hurdles and heptathlon bronze medallist Nadine Visser was just 0.05 in arrears with Brianne Theisen Eaton third in the final heat of five, which brought together the fastest hurdlers, in 13.05.
Ennis-Hill clocked 13.24 in her first heptathlon competition since the 2012 Olympics following injury and maternity leave.
Theisen-Eaton high jump PB
The high jump proved to be a tense affair at times.
Theisen Eaton set a personal best when clearing 1.89m on her first attempt before missing three times at 1.92m and took the overall lead with 2210 points.
Ennis-Hill needed two attempts to clear 1.71m but she then jumped 1.80m, 1.83m and 1.86m at the first time of asking before failing three times at 1.89m to take second place overall.
Schippers survived a big scare when she needed three attempts to clear her opening height of 1.68m but eventually went over 1.77m.
Belgium’s Nafi Thiam, the European bronze medallist and European junior champion, was the best high jumper and cleared 1.92m to move up to third place overall.
Thiam put a solid 14.69m to improve her overall standing to second place, just six points behind Theisen-Eaton, but Ennis-Hill dropped to third place overall after putting 13.95m.
Schippers improved her personal best to 14.66m but was still lying down in eighth place overall. That all changed after the 200m when she uncorked a 22.39 run, just missing her own meeting record set last year by 0.04.
Theisen Eaton ended a solid day with a personal best of 23.24 while Ennis-Hill clocked 23.96 to stay in third place after four events.
“I think it's ironic because I felt like my hurdles would improve a bit," said Ennis-Hill. "I felt more confident about that and was really worried about the high jump because I have just have not high-jumped.
“I was disappointed with my hurdles; (I'm) just lacking speed because I haven't done the work. But I was really, really pleased with the high jump because I've probably done just four high jump sessions but I felt like I had that ping again and it felt really nice."
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF