Report16 Sep 2012

Van Alphen and Yosypenko prevail in Talence - IAAF Combined Events Challenge - Day 2 REPORT


Lyudmyla Yosypenko, the winner in Talence (© Jacques Lavie)

Hans van Alphen and Lyudmyla Yosypenko won the Decathlon and Heptathlon respectively at the 36th Decastar combined events competition on Sunday (16), the final event of the 2012 IAAF Combined Events Challenge.

Van Alphen tallied 8293 points for a comfortable victory over Oleksiy Kasyanov while Yosypenko collected 6401 for a narrow 11-point victory over Frenchwoman Antoinette Nana Djimou Ida.

The meeting was held under perfect weather conditions. On Sunday the temperature rose to 28 degrees C. with hardly any wind in the stadium. With around 10,000 spectators in the "Stade de Thouars" on the second day it was the perfect setting for the athletes. Although the athletes were tired after a long season they amused the audience in this late summer weekend were the public awarded the athletes with much applause.

Van Alphen most balanced decathlete

Overnight leader Kasyanov (UKR) was also the favourite athlete at the start of day two’s first event. In the first heat of the 110m Hurdles he clocked 14.41, a performance that couldn’t be bettered in the second heat, where Adam Helcelet was the first to pass the finish line. Although the Czech was not satisfied with his time he remained in third position after six events, behind last year’s Talence winner van Alphen, who had totaled 5,900 points after six events. Kasyanov had totaled 6,042 points after the hurdles.

In Götzis earlier this year, the Belgian van Alphen fell short of 800 points only in the Discus throw. Earlier in the history of the decathlon only Bruce Jenner, at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal and Jürgen Hingsen when he improved the world record in Bernhausen in 1983 were able to score over 800 points in all ten events. On the first six events the Belgian scored again over this mark at the Decastar and he was now focused to put him on the same level as the former world record holders. He threw 48.92m in discus which earned him 848 points, before clearing 4.72m in the Pole Vault.

The longest throw was produced by Vasiliy Kharlamov with 49.03m and he seemed on the way to a personnel best performance in the Decathlon, but unfortunately missed his opening height in the Pole Vault. Finally the victory in this event went to the Dutch Pole Vault specialist Eelco Sintnicolaas, who topped 5.32m. After eight events Kasyanov was still at the top of the leader board, but Van Alphen was chasing him knowing that normally the Belgian would be stronger in the last two events.

The first throw in javelin for Van Alphen landed at 63.50m, which earned him 791 points. He improed to 63.99m with his second throw, still two points under the 800-point mark. In his final attempt however the spear flow to 65.76m, enough for victory in the event. The 825 points for this performance were enough to overtake Kasyanov after nine events.

In the closing event Kevin Mayer and Van Alphen took the lead, but it turned out that at the end of the season they did not have the power left to go deep enough. At the end Mayer finished first in 4:28.47 with Van Alphen clocking 4:30.22. With this result the Belgian took the victory with 8,293 points to Kasyanov’s 8218. Finishing third was Czech Helcelet who finished with a new personnel best of 8064.

"It was a crazy season in which I won Götzis and Talence. I could not predict this before the season," said Van Alphen. As an extra bonus he took also the victory in the IAAF Combined Events Challenge.

Heptathlon decided at 800m finish line

As in the men’s competition, the overnight leader in the Heptathlon also took victory in the first event of the second day when Austra Skujyte (LTU) leaped a personal best of 6.34m in the Long Jump. Ukrainian Hanna Melnychenko produced the same distance while the Russian World champion from 2011, Tatyana Chernova leaped only five centimeters less, thus nothing changed in the intermediate standings after five events. Skujyte remained first with 4712 points, 25 ahead of Melnychenko.

Although it was ten years ago that double Olympic Javelin Throw champion Barbora Spotakova competed in the Long Jump she was disappointed that she could not jump further than 5.44m. "I know that it is 10 years ago, but I had expected to jump personal best in this event here," she said.

With her special event to come the crowd of 10,000 all watched the Javelin Throw World record holder. As she threw beyond 60 metres with her first throw – 60.90m to be exact - she produced the longest throw in a Heptathlon with the current javelin. Only the former Olympic champion in this event, Tessa Sanderson, had earlier (in 1981) produced a longer distance in a Heptathlon but with the old javelin. Although Spotakova tried to throw further she couldn’t manage. She discovered that it is different to have a javelin competition as sixth event of a Heptathlon. "I am very disappointed to throw my worst distance of the season here for this wonderful audience," she told stadium announcer Marc Maury.

Behind her the heptathletes were inspired by the World record holder. Frenchwoman Antoinette Nana Djimou produced with her last attempt 57.27m and Yosypenko threw 55.64m. Both athletes bettered their personal bests in the event found themselves back in the all-time 10 best heptathletes in the event.

Before the start of the 800m, Yosypenko and Nana Djimou had taken over the top positions in the intermediate standings with the Ukrainian heading the leader board, 26 points ahead of Nana Djimou. Immediately after the start of the last event Nana Djimou took the lead. It was not her only goal to take the victory in the Decastart meeting, but the gap with Yosypenko in the IAAF Combined Events Challenge was so small that both could secure second place in the final standings of these series. Chernova took the victory in the last event and with this she also secured the victory in the Challenge. Nana Djimou finished ahead of Yosypenko in the closing event, but could gain back only 15 points on her opponent, who took with this result the victory with 6,401 points, followed by the Frenchwoman with 6390 points. Also in the Challenge standings the two were separated by only 10 points, with Yosypenko again the better one.

For Skujyte, who was third with 6316 points, it was the 30th time she topped the 6000-point barrier while Spotakova tallied 5880 points to break a personal best she set 10 years ago.

Hans van Kuijen for the IAAF

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