Previews20 Jul 2023

Sulek seeks second success in Bydgoszcz


Polish heptathlete Adrianna Sulek (© AFP / Getty Images)

World indoor silver medallist Adrianna Sulek will defend her title at the Wieslaw Czapiewski Memorial – the last stop on the Combined Events Tour before the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 – on 22-23 July.

For Sulek, it will be an opportunity to remember her former coach, after whom the meeting is named. The Pole was coached by Czapiewski up until his death in 2019.

Sulek won in Bydgoszcz last year with 6290, which at the time was just 25 points shy of her PB. She went on to improve on that with 6429 in Götzis before breaking the Polish record with 6672 to finish fourth at the World Championships. She ended her 2022 season by taking silver at the European Championships with 6532.

She started 2023 in tremendous form, breaking her own national indoor pentathlon record with 4860 and then improving on that at the European Indoor Championships with 5014. Her score was better than the pre-event world record, but world and Olympic champion beat her to the title – and the world record – with 5055.

Outdoors, Sulek finished third in Götzis with 6480 – her best score outside of a major championships – and last month she won the Polish heptathlon title with a comfortable 6152.

Sulek was the overall winner of the Combined Events Tour last year, and a strong performance this weekend should see her move to the top of the standings for 2023.

She’ll have strong opposition from home and abroad. Britain’s Jade O’Dowda, the Commonwealth bronze medallist, heads to Bydgoszcz following a PB of 6255 in Götzis, where she finished 10th. Since then, she has set PBs in the long jump and 100m hurdles, so there could be potential to improve on her score in Bydgoszcz.

Poland’s Paulina Ligarska will be Sulek’s biggest domestic rival. She set a PB of 6241 last year and finished 10th at the World Championships, while her best so far this year is 6013.

Geraldine Ruckstuhl, the 2015 world U18 champion, is also entered. The Swiss heptathlete scored 5872 in her last complete heptathlon, while her PB of 6391 dates back to 2018.

Belgium’s Thomas van der Plaetsen leads the men’s decathlon field. The 2016 European champion had a limited 2022 season, after injuring himself at the 2021 Olympic Games, but he returned to combined events action earlier this year and finished fourth in Ratingen with 8233 – a series that included PBs in the shot put (14.72m) and javelin (68.94m).

He will now look to build on that and get close to the PB of 8430 he set in 2021. He will also have the World Championships qualifying standard of 8460 in his sights, or will at least want to bank enough world rankings points to put himself in a position to qualify for Budapest.

Several other decathletes will be keen to boost their world ranking in Bydgoszcz.

Ondrej Kopecky returns to defend his title. The Czech decathlete won in Bydgoszcz last year with 8041 – his first time above 8000 points – and then improved to 8310 to win the Czech title. Earlier this year he won the national indoor title with a heptathlon PB of 6024 and finished sixth at the European Indoor Championships. He placed 17th in Götzis with 7928 and currently sits just two places outside the world rankings quota for a place in Budapest.

Germany’s 2017 world bronze medallist Kai Kazmirek is yet to complete a decathlon this year, but his performances in individual disciplines suggest he’s in form to surpass 8000 points.

Pawel Wiesiolek and Rafal Horbowicz lead the domestic challenge. Wiesiolek, an 8333 decathlete at his best, has a season’s best of 7872 and he came within five points of that mark to win the Polish title last month. Horbowicz, meanwhile, is the national indoor champion and has set a decathlon PB of 7800 earlier this year.

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