Ashton Eaton in the decathlon at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015
Statisticians A Lennart Julin and Mirko Jalava look back on the best combined events performances of the year.
After taking 2014 off from the event, Ashton Eaton returned to the decathlon this year and he hadn’t missed a beat.
He only completed one decathlon – at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 – but there he took his third straight global title after improving his own three-year-old world record by scoring a total of 9045.
It was not quite a perfect series and one can but wonder with what kind of score Eaton would end up if and when everything clicks. Taking the best individual marks from his two world record series would result in a mind-boggling 9229.
In Beijing, Eaton trailed his old record series all through the first eight events. During the first day the disappointment was the long jump (7.88m now vs 8.23m then), which not even his incredible world decathlon best of 45.00 in the 400m could fully compensate for. But his javelin throw of 63.63m on day two was significantly farther than his mark from his 2012 world record series, putting him back on course for a world record ahead of the 1500m.
Eaton would still have to end the two long days with a 4:18.25 at 1500m. Would he even dare to try? Yes, he did –and after a gutsy run cheered on by an enthusiastic crowd, he just made it: 4:17.52.
In comparison to Eaton’s record, everything else in the decathlon this year paled. World silver medallist Damian Warner improved his PB to 8695 but was still 350 points behind. There was also a general sense of a year of ‘calm before the Olympic storm’ – with one extraordinary exception, of course.
While Britain’s Jessica Ennis-Hill was taking a break from athletics to give birth to her first child, things radically changed at the top of the heptathlon in 2013-14.
The 2015 season started in Gotzis with a world-leading Canadian record of 6808 by Brianne Theisen-Eaton, making the 26-year-old the favourite to win the World Championships.
While Theisen-Eaton’s performance in Gotzis was almost perfect, 29-year-old Olympic champion Ennis-Hill scored a solid 6520 for fourth place, with room for improvement. The Briton made a late decision to compete at the World Championships after the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London in July and was one of the medal favourites at the Bird’s Nest Stadium.
In Beijing Theisen-Eaton, the 2013 world silver medallist, fell back from her Gotzis series in the second event, only clearing 1.80m in the high jump in contrast to 1.89m and this made sure the competition was going to be tight.
In the end the Canadian only reached her Gotzis marks in one event, the 100m hurdles, and Ennis-Hill emerged as a clear winner with a season’s best of 6669 to win her second world title, six years after her first.
The surprise bronze in Beijing went to Latvian Laura Ikauniece-Admidiņa with 6516, her third national record of the season in three competitions. In a fierce 800m competition, world indoor champion Nadine Broersen of the Netherlands had to surrender the podium position she had held before the last event. The 25-year-old was fourth with 6491, just 25 points from the bronze.
A Lennart Julin (men’s events) and Mirko Jalava (women’s events) for the IAAF