Sofia Yfantidou (left) in the heptathlon 200m at the Multistars meeting in Florence (© Organisers / SAB Photo)
Poland’s Pawel Wiesiolek and Greece’s Sofia Yfantidou both moved up the leader board on the second day of the Multistars meeting in Florence on Saturday (16) to win the decathlon and heptathlon respectively at the second leg of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge.
It was redemption of sorts for Wiesiolek, who set a PB of 7727 to finish third in Florence two years ago and then failed to finish the decathlon at last year’s edition. This time he triumphed with a PB of 7863 having moved into – and maintained – the lead after the first event of the second day.
Yfantidou, meanwhile, regained her title from three years ago, winning the heptathlon with a season’s best of 5900, aided by a monster throw in the javelin.
Wiesiolek overtakes overnight leader
Simone Cairoli had made history on day one, becoming the first Italian man to hold the overnight lead at the Multistars meeting. But the 24-year-old knew he would face an uphill task to maintain his position on the second day.
Wiesiolek duly took the overall lead after the 110m hurdles, after clocking 14.98 to Cairoli’s 15.37. Britain’s Liam Ramsay also closed the gap on Cairoli after clocking 14.80 in the faster third heat and was within six points of the Italian.
A 46.22m throw in the discus, the second-best mark of the day, meant that Wiesiolek extended his lead over his main challengers. Cairoli produced his second personal best of the weekend with 36.75m, but it wasn’t enough to hold off Ramsay, who threw 40.95m to move into second place overall.
Wiesiolek faltered slightly in the pole vault, managing just 4.45m, 39 centimetres shy of his outright PB. Ramsay, meanwhile, went 20 centimetres higher to reduce the gap between the pair to 97 points.
Cairoli consolidated his third-place position with a 4.15m clearance in the pole vault and a PB of 57.04m in the javelin. Out in front, Wiesiolek once again extended his lead over Ramsay, throwing 56.33m to the Briton’s 51.05m.
Going into the final event, Wiesiolek had a 176-point lead over Ramsay, which translates to roughly 25 seconds in 1500m terms. Ramsay’s PB was better than Wiesiolek’s, but only by 17 seconds.
Ramsay bravely led the 1500m and won in 4:25.37, dragging Cairoli around to a PB of 4:26.36 behind him. But Wiesiolek also held on to set a lifetime best, his 4:35.39 being more than enough to secure the title.
It was his fourth PB of the competition – following the outdoor bests he set in the long jump, shot put and discus – and brought his winning tally to 7863, adding 136 points to the previous PB he set in the same Luigi Ridolfi Stadium two years ago.
“I am pleased with my performance,” said Wiesiolek, a physical education student from Warsaw. “I set five personal bests and performed well in the long jump and the shot put, but the high jump and pole vault were pretty bad.
“My goal is to achieve the standard for the World Championships and qualify for Beijing,” added Wiesiolek, who became the first Polish athlete to win the decathlon at the Multistars meeting. “I need to score 8150 points. I will compete in three weeks’ time at the Polish Championships.”
Ramsay, who set PBs in the 400m and pole vault, held on for second place with a score of 7752, just 70 points shy of his PB.
Cairoli also had plenty to celebrate after adding almost 300 points to his PB to finish third with 7611.
Two athletes contesting their first ever senior decathlon, Sweden’s Fredrik Samuelsson and Britain’s David Hall, finished fourth and fifth with respective scores of 7531 and 7517.
Yfantidou catches Osazuwa
Day-one leader Uhunoma Osazuwa of Nigeria continued leading the heptathlon after finishing second in the long jump with 6.05m to young Belgian Hanne Maudens (6.16m).
It meant that Osazuwa extended her lead over Marthe Koala and Katsiaryna Netsviatayeva, but the significant move came further down the leader board. 2012 Multistars winner Sofia Yfantidou leapt a season’s best of 6.01m to move from seventh to fourth overall. And her strongest event was yet to come.
Yfantidou lived up to expectations in the javelin and produced the best mark of the day with 53.57m. In that one event alone, she scored 357 more points than Osazuwa, who threw 35.03m, and moved into the lead, 52 points ahead of the Nigerian record-holder.
Netsviatayeva also made inroads on Osazuwa after throwing 39.09m to maintain her third-place position overall.
The Belarusian dominated the 800m, clocking 2:13.35 to win by more than three seconds over her nearest rival. Further down the field, Yfantidou crossed the line in 2:21.56 to finish four seconds ahead of Osazuwa to guarantee she held on to the lead.
Yfantidou now joins a select group of seven women who have won the Multistars heptathlon title on more than one occasion.
“I am happy with the win but I am a bit disappointed with the final score,” said Yfantidou, despite producing her best score since the 2012 Olympics. “The weather was not good and at the start of the day I had some problems with my stomach. But then I threw more than 53 metres in the javelin.”
The 30-year-old now intends on competing at the Greek Championships and then the IAAF Combined Events Challenge meeting in Kladno, where she hopes to qualify for the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015.
Netsviatayeva scored 5806 to finish 12 points ahead of Osazuwa. Slovakia’s Lucia Mokrasova was more than 100 points shy of the podium finishers, scoring 5684 to finish fourth, 46 points ahead of Estonia’s Mari Klaup.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF