Germany's Carolin Schafer in the heptathlon shot put (© Getty Images)
Germany’s Carolin Schafer and Ukraine’s Oleksiy Kasyanov are the overnight leaders in Talence at the Decastar meeting, part of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge, after a string of solid performances on Saturday (20).
Schafer, who missed out on a medal at the European Championships by just 20 points, started strongly with 13.42 in the 100m hurdles, beaten only by Ukraine’s Anastasiya Mokhnyuk, who won the heat in 13.31.
The 22-year-old then cleared 1.80m in the high jump, an event in which Yana Maksimava of Belarus excelled, clearing 1.89m. Hungary’s Gyorgyi Zsivoczky-Farkas also performed well, equalling her PB of 1.86m.
After three events, fewer than 30 points separated Mokhnyuk, Schafer and Maksimava.
The shot was a great event for the Belarusian duo as Katsiaryna Netsviatayeva smashed through the 15-metre barrier for the first time in her career, increasing her PB by 43 centimetres with her hurl of 15.32m.
Maksimava was next best, throwing 14.46m to move into the overall lead with her team-mate just three points behind.
Schafer managed 13.12m, not too far from her own PB, to remain in the top four, while Mokhnyuk also performed to par with 13.42m.
European champion Antoinette Nana Djimou, who was sixth after the high jump, moved up one place thanks to her 14.05m toss in the shot.
The same five athletes remained in the top five positions, albeit in a different order, after the 200m.
Schafer chose the right time to set a PB, her 23.78 clocking earning her just enough points to give her the overnight lead with 3777 points.
Mokhnyuk also ran a lifetime best, finishing second to Schafer in 24.36. She ended the first day in second place, just 17 points behind Schafer.
Netsviatayeva leads her Belarusian team-mate, 3709 to 3640 in third and fourth respectively, while Nana Djimou currently sits in fifth place overall with 3611. World champion Hanna Melnychenko, currently having a low-key year, is down in seventh with 3554.
Both Schafer and Nana Djimou are strong second-day performers. Schafer has found herself in this position before, having led after the first day in Ratingen earlier this year before going on to record three fouls in the first event of the second day.
But with the pressure off in this end-of-season competition, the 2008 world junior champion looks on course to achieve the first victory by a German woman in Talence since Heike Drechsler in 1994.
Kasyanov set to regain title from five years ago
Hopes of a double French victory in Talence took a serious dent following the withdrawal of European silver medallist Kevin Mayer after just three events.
Mayer was slightly below his best in the 100m (11.34) and long jump (7.17m), but was almost two metres down on his shot put best, managing just 13.27m after feeling some pain in his hip. He withdrew before the high jump, not wanting to aggravate the injury.
Ukraine’s Oleksiy Kasyanov, winner of the Decastar title in 2009, led the decathlon from the outset, clocking the fastest time in the 100m with 10.89 (-1.0m/s). Cuba’s Yordani Garcia was just 0.02 behind.
France’s Gael Querin then leapt into contention – quite literally – by recording the best long jump performance of the day with his 7.45m. Kasyanov was just five centimetres behind, while European indoor champion Eelco Sintnicolaas also moved up the overall standings after jumping 7.15m, putting him in fifth.
A Frenchman topped the results for a second event in a row, only this time it was Bastien Auziel who produced the best mark in the shot. He was the only athlete to land his implement past the 15-metre line, doing so by eight centimetres.
Former European indoor champion Mikk Pahapill of Estonia was the next best, throwing 14.80m, while Kasyanov maintained his overall lead after throwing 14.44m.
Pahapill was in a league of his own in the high jump. The 31-year-old was the last one left jumping as he cleared 2.11m, his best outdoor performance since the 2008 Olympics.
That gave him enough points to end the fourth event in second place overall, sandwiched between Kasyanov and Querin, who both cleared 1.99m.
Garcia also bagged valuable points thanks to his 2.02m clearance, but Sintnicolaas dropped down the standings after managing just 1.90m.
Garcia moved up another two places after recording the fastest 400m performance of the day, his 48.71 clocking bringing his day-one tally to 4100 points, enough for second place overall.
Kasyanov held his lead though. The former world indoor silver medallist ran 49.30 to end the day with 4191 points.
Querin also dipped below 50 seconds with 49.64, ending the day in third place with 4082.
Kasyanov, Garcia and Querin appear on course to be the top three finishers at the end of the competition. Barring a disaster – or indeed a break-through performance from one of his rivals – Kasyanov’s leading margin should be enough to give him the win tomorrow.
Although Sintnicolaas has a strong second day, thanks in no small part to his pole-vaulting prowess, he currently sits in ninth place, almost 300 points adrift of Kasyanov, which may be too big a margin to make up tomorrow.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF