Anna Bogdanova is elated with her victory in the pentathlon (© Getty Images)
4 July 2011The European Cup Combined Events is the most important competition for the continent’s national teams. There is no other combined events competition in the world that can look back on such a long tradition. The first edition of this event was held in 1973 and until 1993 it was held every two years. Since that year the competition was changed in an annual competition in which European countries compete against each other in three different levels: Super League, 1st League and 2nd League.
There are separate competitions on each level for men’s Decathlon teams and women’s Heptathlon teams. The winners in the Super League are the winners of the European Cup. This year is the 29th edition of these series. The results of these meetings also count for the IAAF Combined Events Challenge.
The European cup Super League was held this year in the Polish city of Torun, while the teams competing in the 1st League met each other in the North Italian town of Bressanone. The participants in the 2nd League competition went to the city of Ribeira Brava on the island of Madeira, about 1000 kilometres South West of the Portuguese coast.
Super League – Russia prevails, individual honours to Raja and Bogdanova
The eight strongest countries were very unhappy with the weather conditions. The teams in the 1st. League and 2nd. League had perfect weather conditions for a combined events competition, while in Poland the participants were suffering with cold temperatures and heavy rain showers over the two days of competition.
On both days the temperature was only 11 degrees in Torun and under these conditions it was notably that Estonian Andres Raja was able to collect a first day score of 4255 points. This was even 32 points ahead of his personnel best performance in decathlon of 8119 points, a score he managed at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.
Russia and France were the team favourites in the Decathlon, but with Raja’s strong performance he managed to bring his team to the top after day one. With France having three athletes with more then 4000 points after the first day this team still was in position to make it for the European Cup, as the French are known as very strong second day athletes, and the gap of 172 points was within reach.
Raja was not impressed by the bad weather conditions at the start of the second day. He finished under these conditions in a remarkable 14.01 in the 110m Hurdles, which brought him 59 points ahead of his personnel best after six events. A personnel best of 43.80m in the Discus Throw brought him even 80 points ahead. With the events that suffers most of the bad weather conditions still to come no one was sure he could continue until the end. In the next event, Pole Vault he lost 20 centimetres and he speared a decent 59.93m in the Javelin Throw. The conditions for the 1500m were so bad that he could not maintain the advantage towards his best performance. In the end he tallied 8114, just five points shy of his career best.
When Florian Geffrouais from France missed the starting height at Pole Vault the tricolores were no longer in position to win the Cup, but also the overnight leader and reigning European cup champion, Estonia, lost too many points to keep the strong Russian team behind them. After two days the finale standings were: 1. Russia 23,305; 2. Estonia 23,095; 3. Belarus 22,956.
A big surprise was the second position after day one of Vasyl Ivanytskyi with 4067 points. He came to Torun with only a personnel best score of 6410 points in his luggage, but on the second day’s events he still has a lot to improve to stay with the favourites. At the end of the second day he scored 7137 points, which brought him only in 24th position.
In women’s Heptathlon Russia and Ukraine were the favourites. And they topped the scoreboard after day one as expected. The overnight leader was Russian Anna Bogdanova with 3732 points. With this score she was well on the road to manage her first 6000 score of this season. She was followed by two Ukrainians, Alina Fyodorova and Lyudmyla Yosypenko. Also for them a 6000+ score was still possible.
Bogdanova continued with winning the Long Jump with a distance of 6.39m. With this performance she took such an advantage that the individual victory for her was secured. At the end she was the only athlete scoring over 6000 points (6225). She was followed by Yosypenko (UKR) with 5984 and European indoor bronze medalist, Remona Fransen (NED) with 5965.
It the end Russia had four athletes in the top 10, which brought them the European Cup victory with 17,816 points, ahead of Ukraine (17,600) and France (16,992).
1st League Bressanone – Team titles to Britain and Poland
With much better weather conditions in South Tirol it was not a surprise that the first day’s team score in the Decathlon was better as in cold, wet Poland. Great Britain went back to the hotel after day one with 12,076 points, 118 points over Estonia’s first day score. The overnight leader in Italy, Simon Walter of Switzerland, scored 4149 points, 172 points ahead of his season best from Götzis. He was followed by Briton Daniel Awde. Both athletes were still on course for a 8000+ score.
Although the top three all scored personal bests, none of them could pass the 8000 points barrier. At the end Walter was at the top with 7973 points, ahead of Britons Awde and Ashley Bryant. This basis was strong enough to bring the British team the victory with 22,989 points.
In women’s competition two very experienced heptathletes were topping the scoreboard after day one. Polish Karolina Tyminska was leading with 3728 points, followed by Yana Matsimava of Belarus with 3621. The Belarusian team carried a narrow advantage of 10 over Poland.
As from the Belarusian team one athlete dropped out and they further lost a lot of points in Long Jump and the Javelin Throw they felt back to fourth position in the team standings. Poland was the strongest team at the end with 17,309 points – with their captain Tyminska the individual winner with 6297. Second team was Italy with 17,050 with Hungary (17,030) third. The latter team was represented by the only other athlete scoring over 6000 points, Györgyi Farkas, with a personnel best of 6068.
2nd League Ribeira Brava – Skujyte continues return with 6338 tally
Surprisingly in the Heptathlon the highest score in the three meetings was set by Lithuanian Austra Skujyte. The 2004 Olympic silver medallist decided this year to return to competition after her decision to stop when she had to withdraw from competition after day one at the Olympics in Beijing. In Gotzis in May she returned with a 6204 points tally, but in Madeira she improved by 134 points to 6338, currently No. 7 on the world lists.
Next year the European Cup combined events will not be held. From 2012 onwards the European Championships will held in Olympic years, with the combined events Cup taking a break in those years. As a result the 30th edition of this series will be held in 2013.
Earlier this year the European Athletics decided to change the European Cup competition from 2013 onwards similar to the European Team championships. This means that from the next edition onwards the teams will compete as men and women team together, with eight nations competing at the same venue, in the new Super League for national combined events teams and the next eight countries competing in the new 1st League. All other remaining national teams will meet each other in the 2nd League.
Based on the totals of the European cup meetings of this weekend the Super League in 2013 will be composed of Russia, France, Belarus, Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Great Britain and Italy.
Hans van Kuijen for the IAAF