Decathlon - Tomas Dvorak (© © Allsport)
World Champions Dvorak and Barber seek victory in the IAAF World Combined Events Challenge
The 1999 IAAF World Combined Events Challenge moves to Talence (FRA) this weekend for the final stage of a circuit that has witnessed great performances throughout the year, including earlier this year a new decathlon world record.
Having completed three decathlons with a total score of more than 8700 points and an average incredible 8825,3 points, double World Champion and world record holder Tomas Dvorak is the uncontested leader of the 1999 IAAF Combined Events Challenge.
The Czech is now aiming to win the traditional Décastar event in Talence (18-19 September) for the first time and better the meeting record currently held by the USA’s Dan O'Brien. Although Dvorak has taken part in the Décastar event four times, he has yet to win this particular competition. He finished second in 1996 and 1997, ninth in 1995 and thirteenth in 1994.
Despite winning the World Championships, Dvorak declared he was not fully satisfied with his performance in Seville. "I would like to finish the season by keeping up my undefeated record and by scoring at least 100 more points than in Seville. I feel really good and moreover I will not be under any pressure."
At the IAAF World Championship Dvorak obtained 8744 points, second best performance in the world this year. Dvorak now hopes to better O'Brien's seven-year-old record for the Décastar meet of 8891 points. "If I could improve on his performance by at least one point, it would be a great finish to the season."
In the women’s heptathlon, Germany’s Karin Ertl currently leads the Challenge with 18815 points, ahead of American Sheila Burrell (18667) and 1998 winner Urzula Wlodarczyk (18532). The Challenge is decided on the basis of the total of the best three scores achieved by the contenders.
The favourite for the Overall Challenge title is however another athlete. 1999 World Champion, France’s Eunice Barber seems a likely candidate to take the lead in the IAAF World Combined Events Challenge after this weekend. Barber, who will be competing in front of her home crowd, is currently 9th in the standings but she has only taken part in two heptathlons so far this year. She won the European Cup in Prague with 6505 points and the World Championships in Seville with a personal and world best of 6861 points.
Barber’s average of 6683 points is well above Sabine Braun’s 6424.5. The German has also only taken part in two heptathlons this year, but will still be another candidate for the Challenge podium should she achieve more than 6000 points in Talence.
Barber who said she was delighted to end her superb season in front of her home crowd, would need a score of at least 6200 points to ensure herself victory in the Challenge and the $30,000 prize money awarded to winners.
With the greatest all-round athletes present in Talence, the Décastar should be a fabulous and exciting conclusion to this year’s IAAF World Combined Events Challenge.