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Report18 Jul 2022

Thiam regains world heptathlon title in Oregon


Nafissatou Thiam in the heptathlon long jump at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 (Β© AFP / Getty Images)

Nafissatou Thiam, already a two-time Olympic gold medallist in the heptathlon, now has two world titles in her collection following her victory here at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.

The Belgian star, competing in her first combined events competition of the year, was put under pressure by Dutch heptathlete Anouk Vetter and went into the final discipline with a 19-point deficit. But Thiam smashed her 800m PB by two seconds to reclaim the lead with a final score of 6947, the second-best mark of her career.

Vetter held on to take silver with 6867, smashing the Dutch record she set when earning a medal of the same colour at the Tokyo Olympics last year. USA’s Anna Hall, meanwhile, capped a remarkable breakthrough year to take bronze with a PB of 6755, the 21-year-old moving to third on the US all-time list.

Thiam kicked off her campaign with a lifetime best of 13.21 in the 100m hurdles and followed it with a 1.95m leap in the high jump. With no one else jumping 1.90m or higher, Thiam’s clearance was enough to move her into the overall lead.

World indoor silver medallist Adrianna Sulek of Poland also started well, clocking 13.28 in the 100m hurdles and clearing 1.89m in the high jump to move into second place, just ahead of Hall.

Vetter, as expected, excelled in the shot put. Following a 1.80m clearance in the high jump, she threw a lifetime best of 16.25m – more than a metre farther than second-place Thiam (15.03m) – to move from seventh to second overall. World indoor champion Noor Vidts threw a PB of 14.43m to consolidate her fourth-place standing and Sulek managed 14.13m to stay in contention.

Hall was the quickest in the final discipline of the day, winning her 200m heat in a PB of 23.08. Vetter was second-fastest overall with 23.73, her best ever clocking at a major championships, while Thiam ended her day with 24.39, her fastest 200m run within a heptathlon.

Thiam held on to her overall lead with 4071 – her best ever day-one score at a major championships. Vetter was close behind with her tally of 4010, her best ever day-one score. Hall (3991), Sulek (3982) and Vidts (3921) were all close behind in the medal hunt.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson, the defending champion, ended the first day in sixth, one place ahead of Olympic bronze medallist Emma Oosterwegel of the Netherlands.

Thiam started the second day by extending her lead, thanks to a 6.59m leap in the long jump. But Vetter continued to apply the pressure, sailing out to a lifetime best of 6.52m. Switzerland’s Annik Kalin also performed well in this discipline, leaping 6.56m. Sulek (6.43m) and Hall (6.39m) meanwhile switched positions in the overall standings after this event, moving to third and fourth respectively.

Just as she had done with the first day’s throwing event, Vetter impressed in the javelin. With her second throw of the competition, she sent her spear out to 58.29m – just 12 centimetres shy of her own championship best performance from 2017.

Thiam responded with a solid 53.01m, but Vetter emerged from that discipline with a 19-point lead with both women surpassing 6000 points with one discipline still to go.

Hall set a PB of 45.75m, extending her margin over Sulek in fourth. And with the 800m – arguably Hall’s best event – still to come, the rising US star had pretty much guaranteed her place among the medals.

Thiam went into the 800m knowing that she had to finish 1.36 seconds ahead of Vetter to take the title. The Belgian all-rounder was confident of doing that too, having frequently finished a few seconds ahead of her Dutch rival in their 800m clashes over the years.

Holding back from the swift early pace set by Hall, Thiam ran a smart race and stayed comfortably ahead of Vetter throughout. While Hall held off an inspired challenge from Sulek and Vidts in the final 200 metres – much to the delight of the home crowd – Thiam crossed the line a few seconds later in 2:13.00, a PB by two seconds.

Vetter finished in 2:20.09, giving her a final score of 6867 – a 174-point improvement on her own national record and the highest ever score for a silver medal at the World Championships.

But the most remarkable improvement of the competition came from Hall, who added almost 300 points to her PB to take bronze with 6755 – also the highest ever score needed for a bronze medal at the World Championships.

Sulek finished fourth with 6672 – a mark which would have been more than enough for a medal at any of the past 17 editions of the World Championships. But she could find some consolation in the fact that she broke the long-standing Polish record of 6616 set back in 1985 by Malgorzata Nowak.

With Vidts (6559), Kalin (6464, Swiss record) and Oosterwegel (6440) taking the next three places, it was the best depth competition ever at the World Championships. Johnson-Thompson finished eighth with a season’s best of 6222.

Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics


πŸ₯‡ Nafissatou Thiam πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺ BEL 6947 SB
πŸ₯ˆ Anouk Vetter πŸ‡³πŸ‡± NED 6867 NR
πŸ₯‰ Anna Hall πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ USA 6755 PB
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