Serbia's Mihail Dudas in action in the decathlon high jump (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Florence, Italy

Dudas, Ramsay and Yfantidou among favourites in Florence

One week after winning the Oceania Championships, the opening leg of the 2015 IAAF Combined Events Challenge, New Zealand’s Brent Newdick will travel to the Italian city of Florence for the Multistars meeting on Friday and Saturday (15-16), the second stop in the series.

It will be the third consecutive year that the Luigi Ridolfi Stadium has hosted the meeting, which was previously held in Desenzano del Garda.

Newdick won the Oceania title with 7140. Although it was some way shy of his 8114 lifetime best, he didn’t need to be at his best as he won by almost 1000 points. But the two-time World University Games medallist won’t be afforded the same luxury in Florence.

He will face 2013 European indoor bronze medallist Mihail Dudas. The 25-year-old hasn’t completed a decathlon since setting a Serbian record of 8275 at the 2013 IAAF World Championships. After missing most of 2014 through injury, he returned earlier this year to win the national indoor heptathlon title with 5535.

Like Newdick, Poland’s Pawel Wiesiolek has previously made it on to the podium at the Multistars meeting, finishing third in 2013 with a personal best of 7727. He won the Polish indoor heptathlon title earlier this year with a PB of 5986 and went on to compete at the European Indoor Championships.

If the likes of Dudas and Newdick aren’t at their best, Britain’s Liam Ramsay could be the one to watch. Already this year he has set PBs in the 100m, 110m hurdles, long jump and high jump, and the 22-year-old looks set to improve on the PB of 7822 he set when winning in Woerden last year.

Joining him in the traditionally big British contingent is Ben Gregory, who has a PB of 7725 and has finished sixth at the past two Commonwealth Games.

Italian hopes are carried by Simone Cairoli who won his second consecutive national indoor heptathlon title in February with a personal best of 5683.

Three years after winning in Desenzano with a PB of 6109, Sofia Yfantidou of Greece will be bidding to win her second Multistars title. The 30-year-old, who excels in the javelin, has already contested a heptathlon this year, scoring 5531 in Greece last month with a series that included a 55.60m javelin throw. But she took it easy in the 800m on that occasion, so should be set to score higher in Florence.

Yfantidou will face Belarusian champion Katsiaryna Netsviatayeva. The 25-year-old finished runner-up at Multistars last year, her first of seven heptathlons in 2014, and later set a PB of 6121. Earlier this year she scored a pentathlon PB of 4489, setting indoor PBs in four of the five disciplines.

Canada’s Pan American Cup winner Jill Drouin, sister of Olympic high jump bronze medallist Derek Drouin, will be making her Multistars debut. The 28-year-old has a best of 5986.

Commonwealth bronze medallist Jess Taylor will be looking to add her name to the list of British athletes who have made the podium at Multistars, joining the likes of Jessica Ennis-Hill, Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Morgan Lake.

Compatriot and namesake Jess Tappin will also be in Florence. The 24-year-old finished seventh at Multistars last year and went on to score a PB of 5770 one month later.

Belgium, another country with a strong combined events tradition, will be represented by 18-year-old Hanne Maudens, who finished fourth in the long jump at last year’s Youth Olympics.

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF