When the world's best all-round athletes gather in a packed stadium to take part in the last event of the season, final stage of the IAAF World Combined Events Challenge, one can be assured of fireworks. When six of the seven 1999 best performers in the heptathlon are encouraged by the unique atmosphere created in the Décastar Meeting in Talence, one can only expect world class performances.
Tomas Dvorak produced an impressive running for the first of the five events remaining in the decathlon on the second day, the 110m hurdles, to confirm his lead in the men’s standings this morning. With a time of 13.95 run into a head wind blowing at 0.4 m/s he collected 981 points to increase his lead by 80 points ahead of runner up Erki Nool who clocked 14.58 (901 points) in his heat. France’s Laurent Hernu equalled his personal best of 14.31 remaining some 50 points ahead of his overall personal best.
Russia’s Lev Lobodin who was fourth after day one, did not finish the 110m hurdles but went on to continue the decathlon with 46.57m in the discus throw. A contest which was favourable to many athletes, including Tomas Dvorak and Erki Nool.
Nool produced an incredible series improving his personal best (43.20m) at each of his three attempts respectively: 43.22m, 43.97m and 44.47m. The Estonian collected another 756 points but could not close the gap with World Champion Tomas Dvorak who also bettered his personal best in the event by almost two metres to 50.17m.
After seven events, the decathlon was still led by Dvorak (6387 points), only 104 points below his world record mark of 8994 points and still in contention to break Dan O’Brien’s meeting record of 8891 points, which not so long ago was still a world record mark. Estonia’s Erki Nool was second with 6073 points followed by Czech Roman Sebrle (5984), with France’s Sebastien Levicq (5710) and Laurent Hernu (5675) close behind. Levicq, who finished a disappointing fourth place in Seville, still had a chance of finishing in one of the top three positions of the final IAAF World Combined Events Challenge behind untouchable Dvorak, should he score 8200 points or more.
The always spectacular pole vault contest provided some suspense with American Dan Steele clearing the 4.20m entrance height on his third attempt, and Sweden’s Henrik Dagard experienced some difficulty at 4.50m which he also passed on his third try. Eventually both Steele and Dagard equalled their personal bests of 4.50m and 5.00m respectively. World Champion Tomas Dvorak also had a difficult pole vault contest in which he couldn’t do better than 4.40m. Despite injuring his ankle at his first failed attempt at 4.80m in the pole vault – his best event – Sébastien Levicq received treatment and went on to clear 5.00m.
While some athletes, including Tomas Dvorak, had already started the javelin throw, Erki Nool was the only one left to attempt 5.30 which he cleared easily. Almost simultaneously Nool cleared 5.40m while Tomas Dvorak threw an impressive 70.55m with his first attempt. Nool then went on to clear 5.50m and scored 1067 points to take the lead from World Champion Dvorak by 22 points after eight events.
However, it didn’t take long to Dvorak to set things back the way he wanted them to be for Nool threw a poor 68.84m in the javelin. After nine events, Dvorak was in the lead with 8016 points with Erki Nool just 4 points behind, a situation which had the public on tenterhooks before the start of the tenth and last event, the 1500m. Meanwhile Levicq produced a poor 61.43m in the javelin. Diminished by his injury, he decided not to participate in the 1500m. He nevertheless obtained enough points with nine events to finish 6th in the IAAF World Combined Events Challenge.
In a sensational last event Nool was followed stride for stride by World Champion Tomas Dvorak, who produced a fatal acceleration to which Nool could not respond, with 200m to go. The race was won by France’s Gaetan Blouin with a time of 4:31.37.
Dvorak eventually put an end to a sensational season, which saw him breaking the World Record and winning his fourth decathlon of the season. Undefeated this year Dvorak scored a tremendous 8690 – fourth world best performance of the year and his worst result of the year! He defeated Erki Nool by less than 30 points. With 8664 points Nool was only eight points from his personal best. A fabulous conclusion to the 1999 edition of the Décastar Meeting with Roman Sebrle, third today with 8231 points moving up to second position in the World Combined Events Challenge. Chris Huffins who did not compete in the Décastar this year, but who was present as coach to compatriot Dan Steele finishes third in the World Combined Events Challenge.
The women’s heptathlon started this morning with some disapointing news for the large home crowd. France’s Marie Collonville who suffered from an ankle injury in the high jump yesterday decided to withdraw from the competition, despite warming up to compete. The USA's Sheila Burrell, who failed three attempts in the high jump yesterday, was another one to withdraw before the long jump started this morning.
The long jump contest did provoke any important changes in the women’s standings. Barber, whose personal best of 7.01m in the discipline is also a national record, leapt 6.76m to obtain another 1092 points and regain the lead while Wlodarczyk’s poor performance of 5.98m (843) took her down from first to fifth position. Sabine Braun (6.41m), Dedee Nathan (6.42) and Irina Belova (6.47) improved respectively to second, third and fourth position in the current standings.
After five events in the heptathlon, Eunice Barber, Sabine Braun and Irina Belova, who had all competed in only two heptathlons so far this year seemed likely to take the lead of the final IAAF World Combined Events Challenge, their average scores well above the other contestants.
1991 and 1997 World Champion Sabine Braun kept on closing the gap on Eunice Barber throwing a personal best in the heptathlon javelin with 51.71m on her first attempt. World Champion Barber threw 41.14m with her second throw, before improving her result to 45.87m, ensuring a leading position before the last event of the day with a 30 point margin on Germany’s Sabine Braun, 5642 against 5612 points. With just the 800m to go, American Dedee Nathan was third with 5494 points while Russia’s Irina Belova (5347) and Irina Vostrikova (5345) were fighting for fourth place.
800m specialist, Irina Belova led the race from start to finish clocking 2:06.92 with Italy’s Gertrud Bacher close behind in 2:08.57 to take third place in the final heptathlon standings.
Eventually, World Champion Eunice Barber who had been tempted not to complete the heptathlon today, dominated both the Décastar and the 1999 Combined Events Challenge ensuring herself of the 30,000$ prize money awarded to the winner. The podium of the IAAF World Combined Events Challenge this year is that of the Décastar Meeting with Germany's Sabine Braun taking second place with 6422 points and Russia’s Irina Belova finishing with 6357 points.
With 6228 points Poland’s Ursula Wlodarczyk completed her 86th heptathlon and scored 6000 points or more for a record of 50 times.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF
|Tomas Dvorak||(CZE)||8690 points||10.75, 7.76, 16.63, 2.07, 49.10, 13.95, 50.17, 70.55, 4:40.97|
|Erki Nool||(EST)||8664 points||10.79, 7.93, 14.18, 1.98, 47.35, 14.58, 44.47, 68.84, 4:44.51|
|Roman Sebrle||(CZE)||8231 points||10.93, 7.66, 14.56, 2.07, 48.78, 14.75, 44.17, 64.74, 4:45.17|
|Indrek Kaseorg||(EST)||8059 points||11.45, 7.20, 14.24, 1.98, 49.37, 14.56, 43.26, 66.58, 4:35.10|
|Henrik Dagard||(SWE)||7994 points||10.92, 7.02, 14.02, 1.89, 48.21, 14.35, 42.44, 64.82, 4:53.29|
|Laurent Hernu||(FRA)||7937 points||11.38, 7.26, 13.71, 2.04, 50.06, 14.31, 42.88, 56.07, 4:36.48|
|Wilfrid Boulineau||(FRA)||7864 points||11.20, 7.34, 13.42, 1.92, 50.09, 14.75, 40.94, 62.13, 4:41.10|
|Zsolt Kurtosi||(HUN)||7815 points||11.38, 7.05, 15.12, 1.95, 49.59, 14.64, 45.08, 58.40, 4:48.69|
|Jorg Goedicke||(EST)||7787 points||11.20, 6.98, 14.24, 2.04, 50.81, 14.66, 42.08, 54.91, 4:48.07|
|Dan Steele||(USA)||7757 points||11.03, 6.66, 13.57, 1.89, 48.16, 14.77, 48.36, 63.24, 4:53.14|
|Gaetan Blouin||(FRA)||7667 points||11.23, 6.89, 12.11, 2.04, 50.10, 14.81, 38.95, 58.09, 4:31.97|
|Brian Brophy||(USA)||7538 points||11.52, 7.08, 16.03, 1.92, 52.56, 15.30, 51.58, 52.30, 5:13.56|
|Sébastien Levicq||(FRA)||7379 points||11.21, 7.34, 14.62, 1.98, 50.54, 14.50, 44.09, 61.43, dnf|
|Lev Lobodin||(RUS)||Dnf||11.03, 7.36, 16.07, 1.98, 50.02, 0, 46.57, dns|
|Jon Arnar Magnusson||(ISL)||Dnf||11.20, 7.37, 15.66, dns|
|Eunice Barber||(FRA)||6514 points||13.12, 1.87, 11.40, 24.05, 6.76, 45.87, 2:16.45|
|Sabine Braun||(GER)||6422 points||13.63, 1.78, 14.44, 24.49, 6.41, 51.71, 2:20.98|
|Irina Belova||(RUS)||6357 points||13.64, 1.75, 12.82, 25.15, 6.47, 42.92, 2:06.92|
|Dedee Nathan||(USA)||6317 points||13.53, 1.72, 14.81, 24.44, 6.42, 51.71, 2:20.03|
|Ursula Wlodarczyk||(POL)||6228 points||13.72, 1.81, 15.04, 24.82, 5.98, 42.17, 2:14.46|
|Irina Vostrikova||(RUS)||6173 points||13.99, 1.81, 15.28, 25.64, 6.08, 46.45, 2:19.68|
|Natalya Roshchupina||(RUS)||6097 points||13.89, 1.81, 11.65, 23.71, 6.04, 42.38, 2:15.19|
|Tiia Hautala||(FIN)||6025 points||13.88, 1.81, 13.34, 25.02, 6.02, 39.70, 2:15.45|
|Gertrud Bacher||(ITA)||6020 points||14.38, 1.75, 13.07, 24.43, 6.01, 40.06, 2:08.57|
|Muriel Crozet||(FRA)||5627 points||14.02, 1.75, 12.20, 25.44, 5.77, 38.24, 2:21.77|
|Marie Collonville||(FRA)||Dnf||14.09, 1.84, 11.53, 24.34, dns|
|Sheila Burrell||(USA)||Dnf||13.39, 0, 12.16, 23.84, dns|
IAAF Combined Events Challenge
|Tomas Dvorak||(CZE)||8690 points|
|Erki Nool||(EST)||9664 points|
|Roman Sebrle||(CZE)||8231 points|
|Eunice Barber||(FRA)||6514 points|
|Sabine Braun||(GER)||6422 points|
|Irina Belova||(RUS)||6357 points|
See the complete IAAF World Combined Events Challenge