Erica Bougard in the heptathlon 100m hurdles at the IAAF Combined Events Challenge meeting in Florence (© Organisers)
After strong performances on the opening day of the Multistars Trofeo Zerneri Acciai on Friday (27), USA’s Erica Bougard and Norway’s Martin Roe are the overnight leaders at the opening leg of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge.
Bougard won three of the four disciplines and holds a comfortable 113-point lead heading into the second day of action at the Luigi Ridolfi Stadium in Florence. A North American athlete has never won the heptathlon in the 30-year history of the Multistars meeting, but USA currently holds the top four spots in the women’s competition as Bougard is followed by compatriots Alexandria Gochenour, Annie Kunz and Allison Reaser.
Roe, meanwhile, holds a 30-point lead in the decathlon over world U20 silver medallist Maksim Andraloits of Belarus.
Bougard, the fifth-place finisher at last month’s IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018, clocked the fastest time in the 100m hurdles with 13.26 to finish 0.14 ahead of Gochenour.
The two-time US Indoor champion scored her second individual win by clearing 1.84m in the high jump. It was eight centimetres shy of her PB, set at last year’s US Championships where she scored a lifetime best of 6557, but it helped to extend her lead.
Czech Republic’s Katerina Dvorakova, one of two twin daughters of three-time world champion Tomas Dvorak, followed up her 13.75 in the 100m hurdles with a 1.72m high jump to move up to second place overall.
Gochenour was the only athlete to put the shot over the 14-metre barrier. Her release of 14.54m helped her move up to second place overall, just 59 points behind Bougard, who managed 11.76m. Kunz, meanwhile, climbed from eighth to third after throwing 13.79m.
Bougard wrapped up the first day by recording the fastest time in the 200m. Her clocking of 23.62 (2.0m/s) is the fastest 200m performance at Multistars since 2009.
It brought Bougard’s tally to 3777 points, giving her a 113-point lead over Gochnour, who narrowly missed her 200m PB with 24.19 to finish third behind Reaser (24.16).
Despite her overnight lead, Bougard wasn’t entirely happy with her performance on the first day and hopes to do better on Saturday.
“I started off well in the 100m hurdles and I enjoyed a good high jump, but overall I had an average day,” said the 24-year-old. “I could have performed better, but I hope to turn it around tomorrow.”
Consistency pays for Roe
In contrast to Bougard, decathlon leader Martin Roe hasn’t won any of the individual events, but the 2016 Multistars runner-up was close to the top in four of the five disciplines.
He opened with a 10.82 (-0.9m/s) clocking in the 100m to finish just 0.01 behind Poland’s Rafal Abramowski. World U20 silver medallist Maksim Andraloits ran the third-fastest time, improving his career best by 0.05 to 10.92.
Roe finished second in the long jump with an outdoor PB of 7.53m to clinch the overall lead. Yury Yaremich of Belarus moved into second place after winning this event with 7.62m (-0.6 m/s), bumping Abramowski down to third place.
Roe finished second in the shot put with 15.46m to build up a 136-point lead over Andraloits, who improved his PB to 15.06m. Colombia’s José Gregorio Lemus, a strong thrower, topped the shot put with 16.20m, just two centimetres shy of the meeting record.
With Roe clearing just 1.92m in the high jump and Yaremich adding three centimetres to his PB with 2.07m, Roe’s lead was reduced to just 23 points. Andraloits held on to a top-three position after clearing 2.01m. USA’s Jeremy Taiwo, competing in his favourite discipline, was the last man standing after clearing 2.10m, moving him from eighth to fourth overall.
Andraloits applied more pressure in the 400m by posting the fastest time of the day, 49.25. Roe ran a solid 49.78 to bring his tally to 4217 but his lead had been reduced to just 30 points heading into day two. Yaremich currently sits in third, 70 points ahead of Taiwo.
“It was a very solid day,” said Roe. “The 100m was very good considering that I ran into a headwind. I set a PB in the long jump and I’m happy with 15.46m in the shot put. It was very important to perform well in the first three events, where I am stronger. This year my biggest goal is to get a good score at the European Championships in Berlin.”
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF