Report23 Jun 2024

Steinforth and Sprengel achieve German double in Ratingen


Till Steinforth in action in Ratingen (© Fynn Zenker)

Till Steinforth and Sandrina Sprengel achieved personal best performances to complete a German double at the Stadtwerke Ratingen Mehrkampf-Meeting, the final World Athletics Combined Events Tour Gold event ahead of the Paris Olympics, this weekend (22-23).

Steinforth’s score to win the decathlon was 8287, 61 points ahead of his compatriot Felix Wolter. Czechia’s Vilem Strasky placed third on 7986.

Sprengel scored 6260 points to win the heptathlon by 16 points ahead of Ireland’s Kate O'Connor, with Australia’s Tori West only another nine points back in third place.

Steinforth threatened the meeting record in the very first event, improving his 100m PB from 10.69 to 10.41 (1.4m/s). Sven Jansons matched his PB of 10.56 to finish second, while his Dutch compatriot Rik Taam was third with 10.59, a PB by 0.03. Wolter was fourth with 10.65 and Strasky fifth with 10.72.

Steinforth would maintain his lead for the next six events, only dropping to second place after the pole vault and regaining top spot after the javelin. He and Wolter occupied the top two spots throughout.

They went one-two in the long jump, Steinforth leaping 7.59m (1.0m/s) and Wolter 7.55m (0.7m/s) and they were separated by 66 points at that stage.

Estonia’s world fourth-place finisher Karel Tilga, who decided to test himself in a few disciplines in Ratingen, only took one attempt – a foul – in the long jump, but he led the shot put with a PB throw of 16.59m, surpassing 16 metres in each of the three rounds and finishing just four centimetres off the meeting record. Niels Pittomvils was next best on 15.25m, while Tim Nowak threw 14.87m. US-based Steinforth was below his best of 14.33m but he remained in the overall lead with a throw of 13.48m.

Nowak topped the high jump thanks to a 2.01m clearance, while Steinforth, Wolter, Strasky and Fred Isaac Fleurisson all made it over 1.98m. 

The final event on day one was topped by Taam, on the hunt for a Paris place. He went quickest in the 400m, clocking 47.24 to finish just ahead of Steinforth in a PB of 47.38 – his first time under 48 seconds. Wolter was third in 47.72.

That left Steinforth in the lead overnight, the 22-year-old having 4374 points, 67 ahead of Wolter.

Day two started with the 110m hurdles, led by Fleurisson in 13.96 (0.2m/s) ahead of Strasky (14.04). Steinforth was just 0.01 off his PB in winning the second race in 14.12. That result maintained Steinforth’s lead and after six events he was 123 points ahead of Wolter, who held on to second spot overall despite almost falling in the hurdles. Taam was in third and Strasky fourth.

There were PBs for Pittomvils and Wolter in the discus as they respectively threw 48.35m and 45.42m. Steinforth stayed ahead with a best of 42.18m, but Wolter’s PB performance closed the gap to 57 points with three events to go. It was at this stage that Taam’s winning hopes came to an end as he was unable to achieve a valid throw and Strasky moved into third place overall.

Steinforth lost the lead for the first time after the pole vault, as he cleared 4.70m to Wolter’s PB-equalling 5.00m. Strasky managed 4.90m and between them they kept the top three spots, but with Wolter top on 6895 points, 34 ahead of Steinforth.

Steinforth launched himself back into the lead with another PB in the penultimate event, the javelin. His 59.53m was the second best of the competition, behind Leon Mak’s 59.85m – a PB by almost three metres. Wolter had to settle for a best of 52.03m but still had a top two place and the compatriots were 78 points apart with just the 1500m to go.

Steinforth kept Wolter in his sights in that final event and raced to a more than five second PB of 4:37.73 to clinch the title with a lifetime best of 8287. Wolter ran 4:35.07 to secure second place with 8226, while Strasky – in his third decathlon in five weeks – closed his campaign with a 4:47.35 1500m to score a total of 7986 for third place. Pittomvils finished fourth on 7906 after a strong end to his series.

“An increase of more than 200 points is of course great. I even had weaker disciplines like the shot put and the pole vault,” Steinforth told the German athletics association.

“I hope that my development continues like this, because in four years I want to be at the Olympic Games. That is my goal.”

Strong series for Sprengel

Sandrina Sprengel in Ratingen

Sandrina Sprengel in Ratingen (© Fynn Zenker)

Sprengel, the European U20 champion and world U20 bronze medallist, also started her campaign in PB style, clocking 13.50 (0.5m/s) in the 100m hurdles. That was the fifth fastest time of the first event, led by Esther Conde-Turpin of France with a wind-assisted 13.25 (2.7m/s). Behind Conde-Turpin, China’s Zheng Ninali ran 13.32 and Germany’s 2017 world silver medallist Carolin Schafer ran 13.35. There was disappointment for Austria’s Ivona Dadic who fell and did not finish.

Sprengel’s aim for the season was to surpass 6200 points and she remained on track for that in Ratingen with a high jump clearance of 1.78m – down on her PB of 1.83m but enough to see her achieve the joint second-best height of the morning behind Jana Koscak’s 1.81m. 

Schafer, a two-time Ratingen winner, had started well in her most recent heptathlon at the European Championships in Rome but then she recorded three fouls in the shot put. She had more success this time in Ratingen, throwing 14.40m for the second-best throw of the day, three centimetres off the leading 14.43m by Germany’s Vanessa Grimm, contesting her third heptathlon in five weeks. O'Connor was also among the five athletes to surpass 14 metres with 14.16m, while Sprengel set another PB with her 13.26m throw.

Schafer shot to the top spot after three events, 24 points ahead of the 20-year-old Sprengel.

Schafer held on to that lead to finish the first day as No.1 on 3736 points, clocking 24.17 (-1.8m/s) for the second quickest 200m of the day behind West’s 24.14 (-1.3m/s). In that same heat, Sprengel clocked 24.21 to finish second behind West and ended day one in second place, 27 points behind Schafer. Zheng ran 24.73 and was in third place overnight, with West in fourth and O'Connor in seventh.

Things didn’t go to plan for Schafer at the start of day two, as she managed a best of 5.66m in the long jump. Sprengel replaced her as leader after that event, jumping 6.27m – just 10cm off her PB and 8cm off the leading mark achieved by Lucie Kienast.

Sprengel set another PB in the penultimate event, throwing 46.03m to improve her previous best by more than a metre and maintain top spot overall. Her compatriot Marie Dehning threw farthest, improving her PB by almost three metres with 56.12m and breaking the meeting record. O'Connor threw 52.12m, West 51.74m and Schafer 48.31m, as the other three athletes to surpass 46 metres. 

With only the 800m to go, Sprengel was 71 points ahead of West, with O'Connor another 10 points back. Schafer was in fourth place and Zheng in fifth, but they did not race the final event.

Running in the same race as O'Connor and West, Sprengel didn’t let them get too far away and crossed the finish line in 2:19.25 to secure victory on her Ratingen debut with her PB of 6260 points. O'Connor was fastest overall and her 2:14.57 took her to a total of 6244 to secure second place ahead of West on 6235. Elisa Pineau of France finished fourth on 6000.

“I am overjoyed because I never expected to win,” said Sprengel. “After the 100m hurdles I already felt that such a score was possible, because when the hurdles go well, the entire heptathlon usually goes well for me too.”


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