Previews22 Apr 2021

Rising stars in the spotlight in Lana


Maria Vicente in the heptathlon high jump at the European U18 Championships (© Getty Images)

The 34th edition of the Multistars World Athletics Combined Events Challenge meeting in Lana on 24-25 April is shaping up as a battle of the new generation of women’s heptathlon. 

The competition features 14 athletes with a PB over the 6000 points barrier. Some of the best rising stars will compete, including Maria Vicente from Spain, Geraldine Ruckstuhl from Switzerland, Holly Mills from Great Britain and Sarah Lagger from Austria. They will be in contention for the win at the historic meeting, which moved to the Sydtirol town of Lana in 2019 after being previously hosted in Desenzano del Garda and Florence. 

Vicente made a major breakthrough in 2017 when she won the world under-18 title in Nairobi with 5612 points. One year later, the now 20-year-old broke the world under-18 best to triumph with 6221 points and claimed a second title in the triple jump with 13.95m at the European U18 Championships in Gyor. She also finished second in the triple jump at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires and won European U20 gold in Boras 2019 with a national record of 6115. Last February she set the Spanish indoor pentathlon record with 4501 in Madrid.

Lagger, meanwhile, won world under-20 gold in Bydgoszcz in 2016 with 5960 points, finished third at the European U20 Championships in Grosseto in 2017 with 6083 and won silver with a national under-20 record of 6225 at the World Athletics U20 Championships in Tampere in 2018. Last December the Austrian athlete finished third at the World Athletics Combined Events meeting de La Réunion with 6010.

Ruckstuhl won the world under-18 gold medal in Cali in 2015 with 6037, European under-20 silver in Grosseto in 2017 with 6357 and the European under-23 title in Gavle in 2019 with 6274. The Swiss heptathlete set the national record with 6391 in Talence in 2018 and improved her javelin PB with an impressive throw of 58.31m in Götzis in 2017.

Mills will be looking to continue the proud British tradition at Multistars, which started with Denise Lewis, Kelly Sotherton, Jessica Ennis-Hill (twice a winner in Desenzano in 2007 and 2009), Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Morgan Lake (winner in Florence in 2014). Mills made a major breakthrough in 2016 when she won gold in the long jump with 6.19m at the European U18 Championships in Tiblisi. Three years later the British athlete won the European U20 bronze medal with 6.50m and finished fourth in the heptathlon with her outdoor PB of 5802 in Boras. She finished fifth in the pentathlon with 4517 at the European Indoor Championships in Torun 2021 and set an indoor PB with 4557.

Kate O’Connor from Ireland returns to Lana where she finished second with 5881 in 2019. Later that year the young Irish heptathlete won the European under-20 silver medal in Boras.

Ukraine's Anastasiya Mokhnyuk has the second best score among the entrants in Lana with her PB of 6359 set at the 2015 World Athletics Championships in Beijing. She also won European under-23 bronze in Tampere in 2013. The other Ukrainian athlete in the line-up is Rimma Buinenko, who set her PB of 6079 in Lutsk in 2019. 

The best North American heptathlon specialists in the field are Chari Hawkins, who finished third at the 2019 US outdoor championships in Des Moines with 6230, and Georgia Ellenwood, who won the NCAA outdoor title in Eugene in 2018 with 6146 and has a PB of 6173.

The strong German contingent is represented by Anna Maiwald, who won World University Games gold in Gwangju in 2015 and set her PB with 6174 in Ratingen in 2019, and Mareike Arndt, who improved her PB to 6169 in Ratingen in 2019.

The best African specialist is Marthe Koala from Burkina Faso, who won the gold medal at the All-African Games in Rabat and the silver at the World University Games in Neaples with 6121 in 2019. 

Two-time national outdoor champion Sveva Gerevini carries the best Italian hopes. Gerevini made her breakthrough in 2019 when she won the first of her two consecuive national heptathlon titles in Bressanone with her PB of 5907 after improving five individual PBs.

Urena, Bourrada and Roe in decathlon action

Nine athletes with a PB over 8000 points feature in the men’s decathlon competition. Jorge Urena from Spain, who won three European indoor medals (gold in Glasgow 2019 and silver in Belgrade 2017 and Torun 2021), starts as the stand-out name. He set his PB of 8125 at the 2017 World Championships in London.

Larbi Bourrada from Algeria starts with the best score among the entrants. The Algerian decathlete finished fifth at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with his PB of 8521 and at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing with 8461.

Martin Roe from Norway will be looking to win his second Multistars title after his triumph in 2018, when he set the national record with 8228. Later that year the Norwegian athlete finished sixth at the European Championships in Berlin.

Adam Sebastian Helcelet, Jiri Sykora and Jan Dolezal will try to continue the tradition of Czech decathletes at the Multistars which began with Roman Sebrle, Tomas Dvorak, Robert Zmelik and Jiri Ryba.

Helcelet won European outdoor silver in Amsterdam in 2016 and European indoor bronze in Belgrade in 2017. He set his decathlon PB with 8335 in Götzis in 2017.

Sykora won the world under-20 title in Eugene 2014 with 8135 and the European under-23 gold medal in Bydgoszcz 2017 with 8084.

Dolezal won the 2019 edition of the Multistars in Lana with his PB of 8117 and improved his best mark to 8142 a few weeks later at the National Championships in Zlin.

The line-up features four more decathletes with a PB over 8000 points: Fredrik Samuelsson (fourth in the heptathlon at the 2019 European Indoor Championships in Glasgow with 6125) and Marcus Nilsson (PB 8120 in Ratingen 2018) from Sweden, Romain Martin from France (PB 8138) and Niels Pittomvils from Belgium (PB 8051 in Götzis 2016).

Italian rising star Dario Dester and Simone Cairoli will continue their national rivalry. Dester broke the Italian indoor heptathlon record with 6076 at the National Indoor Championships in Ancona last February beating Cairoli, who also improved his indoor PB to 5986. Dester, who trains with Sveva Gerevini under the guidance of Italian decathlon coach Pietro Frittoli, finished fifth at the European U20 Championships in Boras 2019 and seventh at the European Indoor Championships in Torun in 2021. He has a decathlon PB of 7655 but showed during the past indoor season that he has room for improvement.

Diego Sampaolo for World Athletics