Tatyana Chernova en route to a big personal best of 6773 in Kladno (© Jan Kucharčík - atletika.cz)
Kladno, Czech Republic – Tatyana Chernova of Russia took a big Heptathlon victory while Cuban Leonel Suárez triumphed in the Decathlon at the 5th TNT-Fortuna IAAF World Combined Events Challenge meeting on Thursday (16).
Chernova, the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist, lived up to her star billing, scoring a massive personal best and meeting record of 6773 points. Setting up a strong duel at the upcoming World Championships, her tally was just 17 shy of world leader Jessica Ennis. Suárez, the reigning world silver medallist, followed up on a slow first day with a strong and fast finish to win the Decathlon with 8231 points.
Chernova's consistency pays - Heptathlon
Latvian Aiga Grabusté made an excellent start on day two, leaping a 6.65m personal best in the Long Jump, moving into third place. Not hitting the take off board, overnight leader Chernova was well shy of her superb 6.82m leap from Götzis last month but with her 6.59m best was one centimetre better than her main rival, Pole Karolina Tyminska, who remained in second place. Besides the top three, only New Zealander Sarah Cowley sailed beyond six metres, reaching 6.03m. Local hope Katerina Cachova managed 5.85m to sit in fifth place.
Chernova all but sealed her overall victory in the Javelin Throw after reaching 52.00m even, shy of her 54.49m PB but five metres better than her best effort in Götzis. Helga Thorsteinsdottir of Iceland also threw beyond 50 metres, reaching a PB 50.84m, with Cachova producing the third best mark at 44.89m. The Icelander climbed to sixth place, while losing 69 points on her Czech rival and 50 on Dutchwoman Jolanda Keizer. More drama could have been expected from positions four to six than among the top three where Polish Tyminska (40.17m) and Grabuste (43.13m) safely held spots two and three before the final event.
The 800m was a celebration of two best heptathletes. Tyminska took a gun-to-tape victory in an excellent 2:08.33 with Chernova behind her in 2:10.62. There were three personal bests in the faster heat with Thorsteinsdottir, Grabuste and Cachova all finishing under 2:14.
“I had many competitions this month so I didn’t have much power today, but I had a lot of ambitions,” said the 24-year-old Chernova, who finished with 6773 points, 155 better than her previous mark. “The long jump was good but I could have done another personal best if I hit the board. Before the competition I wanted to beat Jessica Ennis’ world lead, and I didn’t expect I could do it after the long jump. Anyway, I tried to throw and run afterwards as best as I could. I’ll be training again hard to do all events perfectly to get a medal in Daegu.”
Second place went to Tyminska, who has never won a medal at a major championships, her best result her fourth place finish at this year’s European indoors in Paris. Her 6516 tally was also a lifetime best and better than the previous meeting record.
European U23 champion Grabuste, with PBs in the 200m, 800m and Long Jump, was third with 6252. In a closer battle for fourth, Czech Cachova prevailed with 5897 points, 41 ahead of Thorsteinsdóttir and Keizer, last scored 5856 and 5804, respectively.
Second day strongman Suárez prevails - Decathlon
Running into a strong head wind (-2.6 m/s), overnight leader Darius Draudvila opened with 14.31 in 110m Hurdles while his closest rival, Brazil's Carlos Chinin, was only 0.02 slower in other heat (-1.5). Yordanis García, with 14.36 in the same heat, narrowed the gap on Dmitry Karpov of Kazakhstan, who held third position thanks to a 14.65 (-1.8) season’s best. Garcia’s Cuban compatriot Leonel Suárez sprinted over barriers 0.02 behind the Kazakh and remained in ninth position. There were solid efforts against the wind by South African Willem Coertzen and Adam Nejedlý, the best Czech at that moment. World record holder Roman Sebrle finished in 16.39, visibly limited by his Achilles’ tendon problem.
Karpov then moved into the lead with a 51.18m season’s best in the Discus Throw, the only throw on the day beyond metres. Suárez was next at 45.66m to move up three places to sixth overall. Chinin was the next best at 44.99m, while Draudvila (41.52m) dropped down to third. Sebrle was well back, but produced a solid 43.00m effort.
Karpov held his lead after taking top honours in the Pole Vault, scaling 5.10m. But behind him, propelled by a 5.00m clearance, Suárez moved up another three places to third, still behind Chinin who cleared 4.70m. Frenchman Kévin Mayer and García each cleared 4.90m while Sebrle cleared 4.60, and Czech Frantisek Stanek topped out at 4.80m.
Suárez moved up again after producing the best effort in the Javelin Throw, 67.18m, while Karpov lost quite a bit of ground after his modest 51.82m. Thanks to strong throws Belgian Hans Van Alphen (66.21m) and Coertzen (66.38) of South Africa moved into contention for top-three finishes. Here Sebrle reached 60.81m while at the front, only 32 points separated García (59.84m), Chinin (55.47m), Coertzen and Van Alphen in positions three through six.
The top six completely shuffled their positions after the final 1500m. Especially Van Alphen, who moved up four places while finishing third with a 4:21.78 personal best, finishing behind Frenchmen Gael Quérin (4:14.52) and Kévin Mayer (4:19.79) who both notched PBs. Suárez comfortably finished in 4:27.98 and took the overall title. The strongest Czech was Jaroslav Hedvicak whose 4:30.87 was also a lifetime best.
Suárez scored not perfect but ok result for the win – 8231 points.
“It was great preparation and testing as well before the world championships,” said Suárez, content with his 8231 point tally. “I’m very pleased to win this, although it didn’t look like in during the competition. The competition at this meeting was very even and unexpectedly high.
The runner-up was Van Alphen with a personal best of 8120, who climbed the leader board thanks mainly to personal bests in the final two events.
Just five points separated former African record holder Coertzen (8094) from Karpov (8089), a 2004 Olympic medallist. Even closer was the single-point gap for fifth between Chinin (8068) and García, the first 8000+ performance for the former. France’s European champion Romain Barras (8010) also topped the 8000 barrier in seventh, while the best home result came from Stanek (7470).
Also not to be forgotten, organisers made a tribute to legendary coach Zdenek Vána, now aged 72, who brought plenty of Czech decathletes to world class. Among the many names the two best known include triple World champion Tomáš Dvorák, now retired and serving for the Czech federation as head coach, and Šebrle, who finished the competition despite Achilles’ tendon problems which nagged him throughout the two days. He was 18th over all with 7343 points.
Michal Procházka for the IAAF