Carolin Schafer en route to a 200m personal best and meeting record in Ratingen (© Gladys Chai von der Laage)
Three weeks after her heptathlon came to an abrupt end in Götzis, world silver medallist Carolin Schäfer will be back in action at the Stadtwerke Ratingen Combined Events Meeting this weekend (16-17), hoping for better luck at the IAAF Combined Events Challenge fixture.
The German heptathlon got off to a solid start in Götzis, clocking 13.25 in the 100m hurdles and clearing 1.80m in the high jump. But she recorded three no-throws in the shot put, effectively ending her competition.
It was a stark contrast to her Götzis experience from 12 months prior when she scored a lifetime best of 6836, but the 2016 and 2017 IAAF Combined Events Challenge winner has rebounded from similar experiences in the past and will be fired up to defend her title in Ratingen.
She will need to be near her best, too, as she will be up against Austria’s Ivona Dadic. The European bronze medallist finished second in the pentathlon at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018 and has shown promising form so far this outdoor season, setting a 100m hurdles PB of 13.61 and coming close to her 200m PB with 24.07.
Grit Sadeiko suffered a similar fate to Schäfer in Gotzis last month, recording three fouls in the long jump. The Estonian, who took the bronze medal behind Schäfer’s gold at the 2008 World U20 Championships, increased her own national record to 6280 last year and will want to be near that kind of mark leading into next month’s European Championships.
Aside from Schäfer, several other German heptathletes will be aiming to impress the selectors ahead of the European Championships. 2016 national champion Mareike Arndt set a PB of 6122 in Götzis last month and would like to continue that momentum in Ratingen. Anna Maiwald, the 2015 World University Games champion, didn’t finish in Gotzis but will feel more at home in Ratingen at what will be her seventh appearance at this meeting.
Louisa Grauvogel set a PB of 6074 at last weekend’s NCAA Championships and will make the trip across the Atlantic to battle for a spot on the European Championships team. Celina Leffler, who took gold ahead of Grauvogel’s bronze at the 2013 World U18 Championships, will also hope to be in contention. She improved her PB to 6070 to take European U23 bronze last year.
Germany’s 2015 European indoor silver medallist hasn’t completed a decathlon since the 2016 Olympic Games. He finished 15th in Rio with 8013, a slight disappointment given he had scored a lifetime best of 8605 to win in Ratingen just two months prior. But further disappointment was to come as injury forced him to miss most of the 2017 season.
He started in Ratingen last year, but managed to complete just four attempts before bringing his competition – and his summer season as a whole – to an early end.
Abele, who also won in Ratingen back in 2007, tested his current form by contesting a few disciplines at a combined events competition in Halle last month, clocking 11.12 in the 100m, 49.90 in the 400m and 14.10 in the 110m hurdles, throwing 15.48m in the shot and 38.19m in the discus, and clearing 4.50m in the pole vault.
Being ready for a comeback is one thing; being in form to beat a world bronze medallist is another.
Kai Kazmirek has shown strong form in 2018. He finished fourth at the World Indoor Championships with a heptathlon PB of 6238, then last month finished fourth in Götzis with a season’s best of 8329.
There were some events in which there’s clearly room for improvement, too. Kazmirek managed just 4.70m in the pole vault in Götzis, whereas in Birmingham a few months ago he vaulted 5.20m. His shot put and long marks were also slightly down on his indoor form, but as a whole his Götzis series was by no means a disaster and he’ll start as the favourite this weekend.
As is the case in the heptathlon, many of Germany’s leading combined eventers will be vying for a spot on the country’s team for the European Championships.
Tim Nowak (8037), Dennis Hutterer (8032) and Florian Obst (8005) have all exceeded 8000 points this year, while Luca Wieland (8201) and Ituah Enahoro (8028) both surpassed that barrier last year.
France’s Gael Querin and Sweden’s Marcus Nilsson will also be in contention for a podium place.
World champion Kevin Mayer will be in action in Ratingen, but the French star will only contest six events (100m, shot, 400m, 110m hurdles, discus and pole vault) as part of his preparation for next month’s European Championships.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF