Kai Kazmirek in the decathlon javelin in Ratingen (© Gladys Chai von der Laage)
Kai Kazmirek charged into day two of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge meeting in Ratingen the same way he left day one: at full speed, towards a second World Championships standard and onwards to an Olympic standard. And in the heptathlon, Verena Preiner led from start to finish to claim Ivona Dadic’s Austrian record.
Kazmirek supreme while Rolnin collects a World Championships qualifier
Watched from the sidelines by 1996 Olympic decathlon silver medallist Frank Buseman, Kazmirek clocked 14.14 to win the 110m hurdles, just nine hundredths away from his PB of 14.05. Behind him, Basile Rolnin also continued his form from the first day, one hundredth off his own best, with 14.34. Mathias Brugger split the overnight leaders with 14.26, with Fredriech Pretorius in fourth with 14.41. Unfortunately, Gael Querin took a tumble at an early hurdle, although he continued with the competition.
After the sixth event, world bronze medallist Kazmirek had extended his lead over Rolnin to almost 200 points.
Rolnin and Brugger would be expected to bring superior discus distances to those of Kazmirek, and in the first round Rolnin threw 48.38m to lead the field, followed by Dennis Hutterer with 47.18m, Fredriech Pretorius with a PB of 43.63m and Brugger 43.36m. And that was the case until the final round when Kazmirek launched a throw of 44.71m, only a metre down on his lifetime best. But that spurred on Brugger to 44.54m and – for his fifth PB of the weekend – 50.62m for Basile Rolnin. The gap between first and second shrunk to just 73 points.
Just 20 centimetres separate the lifetime bests of Kazmirek and Rolnin in the pole vault, 5.20m and 5.00m respectively. But Rolnin could do no better than 4.50m, and Brugger no-heighted at 4.60m. With Kazmirek banking a safe early jump of 4.70m, his path was clear for the rest of the pole vault, and indeed the rest of the competition.
Felix Hepperle was the only other man to go over 5.00m, and then Kazmirek was on his own, equalling his season’s best of 5.10m, and unsuccessful at two attempts at 5.20m and one at 5.30m. With Brugger out of contention, Pretorius moved up into third, just 21 points ahead of Hutterer.
Any list of best javelin throws usually features a number of Germans, and the decathlon javelin is no different. But while there was no Estonian equivalent of Magnus Kirt to spoil the party in Ratingen, there was a Frenchman and a South African.
Rolnin’s first-round throw of 58.61m was a PB and would have been enough to lead the field until Fredriech Pretorius’ third-round throw of 59.25m. But Basile went out a 60.00m best in the second round, and another lifetime improvement to 61.60m in the third round – the sub-par pole vault long forgotten. Kazmirek threw 56.95m.
In the final event, Kazmirek hung on to the faster men in front of him and finished the 1500m in 4:41.72, enough to take him to a World Championships and Olympic qualifying score of 8444, the fourth highest mark of the year behind Götzis winner Damian Warner and runner-up Lindon Victor, and Talence winner Pierce LePage.
“Of course, I’m happy,” he said of his performance. “Three disciplines were not so good, but the rest was fine. I have big problems with my achilles, and I took some ibuprofen, and then it worked better. I have to go to university and study, and then after that I’ll go on holiday for four or five days, and then start training again.”
But behind Kazmirek, Rolnin was being helped by teammate Querin to the performance of his life. Querin is capable of a time inside 4:10, but with his decathlon dead in the water after the hurdles, he paced and encouraged Rolnin to 4:50.53, giving him a tally of 8205, a PB by 118 points and a World Championships qualifying score.
“It’s incredible, a beautiful story because my last decathlon was two years ago, here,” Rolnin said of his pole vault experience.
“There was an incident in the pole vault at the end of warm up. My hamstring hurt and I don’t know what I can do at this moment. My coach said, ‘ok, you will take a little way to jump and just need one more’. And I said ok, it’s possible, but I don’t know if I can run! My physio stretched me, the third jump was good, and then I said – just javelin and the last race!”
After finishing third behind Rolnin in 7872, Pretorius shared his plans for the year.
“My coach just informed me we have a little event in Mauritius, to do three events and try and sort out some technical stuff with the hurdles and the javelin, to get a few extra points. After that it will be to the African Games in Morocco, and hopefully we can get a better score at the African Games, and then maybe qualify for Doha.”
Preiner embraces her new role as leader
The long jump in the heptathlon had a low-key start, with swirling winds of some 3 metres per second in both directions. The first six-metre jump of the day came from Verena Preiner (6.16m), quickly followed by Nadine Broersen (6.02m) and 6.20m from Ivona Dadic. Broersen improved to 6.20m in the third round.
In the javelin, Preiner had the longest throw in the first round of 48.03m, ahead of the 50-metre-plus throwers Dadic (47.97m) and Broersen (46.65m). She edged closer to her lifetime best of 49.56m in the second round with 48.98m, while Dadic also improved to 48.40m. And then in the third round, Preiner improved again, beating her old best by two centimetres to register 49.58m.
Dadic, being coached throughout the event by the 2004 and 2008 Olympic javelin champion Andreas Thorkildsen, responded with 49.64m, just six centimetres farther than Preiner, with Broersen also improving to 47.32m in the final round.
Preiner continued to lead after six events, and going into the 800m, only 14 points separated her and Dadic. Broersen maintained her position in third, some 100 points ahead of Anna Maiwald and Mareike Arndt, themselves only separated by eight points.
Commenting on Dadic’s javelin, Thorkildsen said: “It’s getting there, it’s the first time I’ve seen her in competition. In practice it’s getting better. It’s a long process of changing technique she’s had for many years. With her physical abilities, it should be around 55m.”
Preiner took the 800m by the scruff of the neck, running from the front and establishing several metres of a gap from Dadic by the time they had run 100m. She increased that lead to 10 metres by the bell, and by 600m it was over, as Dadic was being caught by Yuki Yamasaki, and eventually passed by both Arndt and Maiwald.
Preiner was rewarded with an 800m PB of 2:07.74, her second lifetime best heptathlon score of the season with 6591, and the addition of 39 points to Dadic’s Austrian record. Dadic finished with a season’s best of 6461. It was the first time Preiner had finished ahead of Dadic in a combined events competition (excluding competitions where one of them was a non-finisher).
Maiwald, Arndt and Yamasaki also recorded PBs in the 800, and Maiwald (with a PB of 6174) and Arndt (6160) finished fourth and fifth respectively behind Broersen in third (6232).
“I did not expect it, winning here and doing a national record, so I’m really happy,” said Preiner. “It was the first time I had a leader bib, and so that was a nice thing. I was happy to wear it through the whole heptathlon and win it in the end. I did the heptathlon in Arona, and made some technical mistakes, so I tried to do better here. I tried to have fun and bring all the events together, and so I’m very happy.”
Gabriella Pieraccini for the IAAF