Katerina Cachova in the heptathlon long jump (© AFP / Getty Images)
A slight hamstring injury has forced three-time winner Eliska Klucinova to withdraw from the TNT Express meeting in Kladno, but there’s still a good chance of an athlete from the host nation taking victory at the IAAF Combined Events Challenge meeting on 10-11 June.
After struggling with injuries for several years, Czech Republic’s 2007 world youth champion Katerina Cachova recently won the national heptathlon title with a lifetime best of 6285, adding more than 100 points to her previous best from 2011.
The 26-year-old warmed up for Kladno earlier this week, clocking a big PB of 13.05 in the 100m hurdles at the Josef Odlozil Memorial in Prague.
“I am a little bit sad that Eliska Klucinova is not competing, because our competition could have helped both of us,” said Cachova. “My shape is improving with every competition, so I would like to set a personal best.”
The absence of Klucinova, who sustained her injury during the long jump at the recent Hypo Meeting in Gotzis, means that none of the previous winners from this meeting will be in Kladno. But Poland’s Karolina Tyminska, who is no stranger to the podium in the Czech city, will be back in action.
The 31-year-old has finished second in Kladno on four occasions and last year placed third. But this year her focus will be more on achieving the Olympic qualifying standard of 6200.
Ukrainian women have triumphed in Kladno at five of the nine editions. This year the heptathlon superpower will be represented by two-time world indoor bronze medallist Alina Fodorova. After a modest 5662 performance in Gotzis, the 26-year-old insists she is ready to produce a higher score this weekend.
“I wasn’t fully prepared in Götzis, it was just a warm-up for me,” said Fodorova, who has a best of 6278. “Now I feel much better and I hope my score will be over 6000 points.”
Britain’s Morgan Lake is another global age-group champion set to compete in Kladno. The world junior high jump and heptathlon champion withdrew after the first day in Gotzis last month, so will be looking for a better showing this weekend.
Belarusian hopes will be carried by 2013 European indoor silver medallist Yana Maksimava and Katsiaryna Netsviatayeva, the runner-up in Kladno in 2014. Meanwhile, Norwegian record-holder Ida Marcussen will try to improve on her fourth-place finish from last year’s TNT Express meeting.
But the heptathlon won’t be an all-European affair. African Games champion and Nigerian record-holder Uhunoma Osazuwa will be contesting her second heptathlon within a week, having scored a season’s best of 5921 last Sunday, while Asian champion Ekaterina Voronina, who holds the Uzbek record at 6212, will be making her TNT Express meeting debut.
Defending champion Lukas takes on Bryant and Pahapill
Last year in Kladno, Marek Lukas became the first Czech winner of the decathlon since Roman Sebrle’s triumph at the inaugural edition in 2007.
The 24-year-old, who recently won the national title with 7877, will aim to defend his crown this weekend and improve on the PB of 7892 he set when winning in Kladno last year.
“I am healthy and well prepared,” said Lukas. “After this weekend, I hope my PB score will finally begin with an eight.”
But there are six decathletes on the entry list with higher personal bests.
Britain’s Ashley Bryant scored 8056 last month in Gotzis, just 44 points shy of the Olympic standard, having competed in the pole vault on borrowed poles after an airlines failed to transport his poles to Austria. Reunited with his own poles in Kladno, the Commonwealth silver medallist now feels more confident of booking his spot on the team for Rio.
Estonia’s Mikk Pahapill will compete in his first decathlon since his victory in Talence in September 2014. The 2009 European indoor champion is returning to Kladno after two years, having finished fifth in 2014.
Norwegian duo Lars Rise and Martin Roe, who finished first and second at the IAAF Combined Events Challenge meeting in Florence last month, are also returning to Kladno. Roe finished second in Kladno last year, while Rise placed fourth in 2014 and 2015.
Latvia will be represented by national record-holder Edgars Erins, who combines athletics with bobsleigh.
Adam Sebastian Helcelet and Jiri Sykora both achieved the Olympic qualifying standard in Gotzis last month and so decided to skip the TNT Express meeting, but European junior champion Jan Dolezal will be in Kladno. The 20-year-old recently set a PB of 7707 when finishing second to Lukas at the Czech Championships.
Michal Osoba for the IAAF