Previews25 Apr 2024

Multistars kicks off Combined Events Tour Gold


Taliyah Brooks in the heptathlon shot put at GardaStars by Multistars (© Daniele Morandi for organisers)

Taliyah Brooks defends her heptathlon title, while Thomas Van der Plaetsen heads the decathlon field at Multistars – the first World Athletics Combined Events Tour Gold event of 2024 – this weekend (27-28).

Nine decathletes with 8000-point-plus PBs and nine heptathletes who have surpassed 6200 points are entered for the event, which returns to Brescia – host of the first seven editions from 1988 to 1994 – for the first time in 30 years.

USA’s Brooks set a PB of 6330 points to win the heptathlon in Desenzano del Garda last year and she went on to finish second at the USA Championships with a score just 11 points off that mark, but her campaign at the World Championships in Budapest came to an early end when she recorded three fouls in the long jump. She rebounded at the Decastar in Talence in September, finishing third on 6181, and has already shown PB form in 2024 as she clocked 7.97 for 60m hurdles in February.

One athlete sits above Brooks on the entry list when it comes to personal bests: Austria’s Ivona Dadic. The 2018 world indoor pentathlon silver medallist, who set her best of 6552 in 2018, makes a heptathlon comeback in Brescia as she missed the whole of 2023 following knee surgery. 

Dadic returned to action at the Swedish Indoor Combined Events Championships in January – her first competition since winning the Decastar with 6233 points in September 2022 – and finished second at the Austrian Indoor Combined Events Championships in February. Her aim in Brescia – as it is for a number of athletes in action – will be to qualify for the Olympic Games and European Championships.

China’s Asian Games champion Zheng Ninali, who won the pentathlon at the Asian Indoor Championships in February, is also among the entries, just over a week on from her 6164-point performance at the Mt. SAC Relays.

Britain’s Commonwealth bronze medallist Jade O’Dowda was second at Multistars last year and went on to set a PB of 6255 points at the Gotzis Hypomeeting a month later.

Ireland’s Kate O'Connor is also among the entries, as she prepares for her first competition since finishing 13th at the World Championships in Budapest.

Italy’s world indoor fourth-place finisher Sveva Gerevini is entered but may not compete due to a hamstring problem.

Making the step up to the senior event is Hungary’s 17-year-old Sarolta Kriszt, the 2022 European U18 silver medallist.

For Belgium’s Van der Plaetsen, Brescia offers a first decathlon since the Decastar, where he placed sixth, and the chance to make a mark ahead of this year's major competitions.

The 2014 world indoor heptathlon bronze medallist competed in Desenzano del Garda last year but withdrew with a niggle. He then finished fourth in Ratingen before securing sixth in Talence. His PB of 8430 was set in Gotzis in 2021.

His competition this time includes Czechia’s Adam Helcelet and Poland’s Pawel Wiesiolek, both of whom have also surpassed 8300 in their careers so far. More recently, Helcelet scored 8034 to finish second at the Wieslaw Czapiewski Memorial in Bydgoszcz in July, while Wiesiolek won the Polish indoor heptathlon title in February.

They will go up against Italian record-holder Dario Dester, who achieved that 8218-point record at the European Championships in Munich in 2022. The Multistars will be his first decathlon since then.

Also looking to make an impact will be Estonia’s European indoor heptathlon bronze medallist Risto Lillemets, Brazil’s South American champion Jose Fernando Ferreira Santana and Belgium’s Jente Hauttekeete, the world U20 heptathlon record-holder.

Lillemets was fifth at Decastar in September, while Ferreira Santana set his PB of 8058 last July.

Hauttekeete had a busy start to the year and he won the national indoor heptathlon title with 6131 in February before finishing eighth at the World Indoor Championships.

Like Kriszt, 19-year-old European U20 bronze medallist Andrin Huber steps up to senior competition in Brescia.

Pages related to this article