Kendell Williams and Kai Kazmirek (© Getty Images)
USA’s Kendell Williams and Germany’s Kai Kazmirek topped the end-of-season standings in the 2021 World Athletics Challenge – Combined Events.
Williams, who finished third in the 2019 edition of the series, won the overall title for the first time, tallying 19,574 points. Kazmirek, winner of this series back in 2016, landed his second title with a score of 24,500.
Rewarding season-long consistency at the highest level, the scoring system takes each athlete’s three best marks from the series and combines the points into an overall score. Prize money is awarded to the top eight finishers at the end of the challenge. The athlete with the highest score wins US$30,000 and a wildcard entry to the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.
Williams, 26, started her season with her first ever podium finish at the prestigious Hypo Meeting in Götzis, scoring 6383. She followed it with a lifetime best of 6683 to take second place at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene. She went on to place fifth at the Olympic Games with 6508 – her highest ever score at a major championships.
“Plenty to smile about this season,” she said after the Olympic Games. “It’s always an honour to compete on the biggest stage and I’m proud of the way I fought through two hard days of competition.”
Williams has now secured a wildcard entry for next year’s World Championships on home soil, so won’t have to compete for a place on the team at the US Trials.
Spain’s rising combined events star Maria Vicente finished second in the standings, following her national record of 6304 to win at the Multistars meeting in Lana, along with her 6274 score in Arone and 6117 performance at the Olympics.
Germany’s Vanessa Grimm and Ratingen winner Georgia Ellenwood of Canada were close behind Vicente in the standings with just 60 points separating the trio. Benin’s Odile Ahouanwanou, runner-up in Ratingen with a national record of 6274, was fifth.
Kazmirek’s top score of the season came in his first decathlon of 2021 when he tallied 8190 to place seventh in Götzis. He came close to matching that when winning in Ratingen with 8184, a performance which effectively sealed his place on Germany’s Olympic team. He went on to place 14th at the Olympic Games in Tokyo with a score of 8126.
“This win means a lot to me, because the victory brings with it a wildcard for the World Championships,” said Kazmirek.
As he is one of two German athletes with a wildcard, along with world champion Niklas Kaul, it will be down to the German Athletics Federation to decide which wildcard entry to accept for the 2022 World Championships.
Adam Sebastian Helcelet of the Czech Republic achieved runner-up finishes in Lana (8025) and Arona (8058) before placing 16th at the Olympic Games in Tokyo with 8004, giving him second place overall in the challenge standings.
Norway’s Martin Roe beat Helcelet in Lana to take victory with 8055, then placed fourth in Arona (8016) and 19th in Tokyo, finishing third overall in the standings. Sweden’s Fredrik Samuelsson and Estonia’s Taavi Tsernjavski took fourth and fifth respectively.
1 Kendell Williams (USA) 19,574
2 Maria Vicente (ESP) 18,695
3 Vanessa Grimm (GER) 18,661
4 Georgia Ellenwood (CAN) 18,635
5 Odile Ahouanwanou (BEN) 18,284
1 Kai Kazmirek (GER) 24,500
2 Adam Sebastian Helcelet (CZE) 24,087
3 Martin Roe (NOR) 23,934
4 Fredrik Samuelsson (SWE) 23,421
5 Taavi Tsernjavski (EST) 23,114