Willem Coertzen in the decathlon pole vault at the Decastar meeting in Talence (© Jean-Pierre Durand)
South Africa’s Willem Coertzen and Hungary’s Gyorgyi Zsivoczky-Farkas both put in storming second-day performances to secure wins at the 39th Decastar combined events meeting on a sun-drenched Sunday (20) in Talence.
Day two of action in the southwest of France also brought the IAAF Combined Events Challenge series to an end for 2015. Russia’s Ilya Shkurenev finished in third in Talence to secure the decathlon title, while Latvia’s Laura Ikauniece-Admidina – who was not competing in Talence – was gifted the heptathlon crown after Nadine Broersen, the only woman able to displace her at the top of the standings, withdrew injured during the long jump.
Trailing Ukraine’s Oleksiy Kasyanov by 72 points at the halfway stage, Coertzen had work to do on the second day in Talence.
The gulf widened after the first event of the day, as Kasyanov clocked a PB of 13.92 in the 110m hurdles; the fastest time of the field. Coertzen was second fastest overall with 14.27 to leapfrog Kurt Felix, who clocked a 14.85.
In the discus, Kasyanov was again the best in class, throwing 48.35m in the first round.
Coertzen posted a best of 43.69m, while Felix’s 45.09m saw him move back up to second overall, and at that point it looked like the Grenadian would be the more likely challenger for the win.
With a 199-point gap between first and second, Felix needed a strong pole vault if he was to put any pressure on Kasyanov, but the Pan American Games silver medallist failed all three attempts at his opening height of 4.25m to put him out of the running.
With the raucous crowd spilling on to the track, just yards from the pit that had been set up in front of the main stand, Coertzen took up the mantle. He cleared a personal best of 4.65m, eclipsing Kasyanov’s 4.55m best to reduce the gap to 184 points.
Shkurenev was the clear winner of the event with a 5.25m best, moving him from ninth to third place in the standings.
Coertzen followed up his PB performance in the pole vault with a javelin throw approaching his best. His 67.21m was the longest effort of all the athletes, while Kasyanov’s 46.98m effort was the second shortest. Shkurenev recorded a solid 60.09m to cement his third place standing.
Those javelin heroics brought Coertzen’s tally to 7479, giving him a 119-point lead going into the 1500m decider. With the home straight cast in long, lazy shadows on a blissful autumnal evening, the South African eased home in 4:35.64 to wrap up the win with 8187 points.
“Usually the javelin is my strong event and I know Kasyanov’s is not the best so I was waiting and waiting in anticipation for the javelin,” said Coertzen after becoming the first African winner at the Decastar meeting. “And then the 1500m – I can run a lot quicker than that but I just had to do what I needed to do. Basically I just took a nice little jog around the track.”
That nice little jog was indeed enough, as Kasyanov was four seconds back to finish in second with 8043.
The French crowd were wooed by home favourite Gael Querin, who had earlier posted a personal best of 5.05m in the pole vault, and won the 1500m in 4:20.44 to finish fourth overall with 7914.
Meanwhile, Shkurenev was in cruise mode as he finished his day with a 4:41.44 1500m to amass 7973 points, confirming him as the year’s Combined Events Challenge champion.
Zsivoczky-Farkas takes advantage
She might have been down in fifth and 191 points off the lead overnight, but Gyorgyi Zsivoczky-Farkas wasn’t in the mood for coasting.
In front of a packed and noisy stand at the Stade de Thouars, she recorded the second-best mark of the day in the long jump, going out to 6.26m to move up to fourth.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson, leader after day one, recorded only one legal jump, a second-round 6.17m effort. Her lead was cut to a single point as Anastasiya Mokhnyuk notched a leap of 6.32m with her first jump that she didn’t improve on.
Nadine Visser looked disappointed with her best effort of 6.09m, which meant she dropped to third, 48 points off the lead.
Her fellow Dutchwoman Nadine Broersen retired injured following two fouls, scuppering her chances of retaining her Combined Events Challenge crown.
It soon became clear that Johnson-Thompson was also struggling with injury.
She attempted only one throw in the javelin, posting 29.15m off a short run up in round two that proved to be her last involvement in the competition.
Mokhnyuk’s second-round PB of 39.76m gave her the overall lead, 76 points ahead of Zsivoczky-Farkas, who threw 45.82m to move into second.
Nadine Visser’s best of 38.14m meant she stayed in third, just two points behind Zsivoczky-Farkas. Ivana Dadic threw a PB 52.48m – the best throw of the day – to move into fourth overall.
With just 78 points separating the top three, the 800m provided a dramatic end to the contest. Zsivoczky-Farkas came home first in a personal best of 2:11.88 to win with 6306 – the second-best haul of her career.
“I never thought that I could win this Decastar,” said a delighted Zsivoczky-Farkas. “I always want to do my best and focus on the event I’m doing. I was very happy because this is my second-best result and I did two PBs here. It’s a very good atmosphere here, it’s good to compete here because the people are very supporting and it helps a lot.”
Mokhnyuk’s 2:17.75 in the 800m meant she just clung on to second place with 6269 points ahead of 20-year-old Visser, who ran a personal best of 2:13.08 to finish with 6257. Fourth place went to Dadic, who improved her own Austrian record by scoring 6151.
Thomas Byrne for the IAAF