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Report27 May 2012

Ennis tallies 6906pt national record in Gotzis, van Alphen tops 8500 – IAAF Combined Events Challenge


Jessica Ennis sails towards a national record in Gotzis (©

Gotzis, AustriaJessica Ennis and Hans van Alphen lived up to their overnight leading position by taking victories at the Hypo Meeting in Gotzis, the the Austrian leg of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge.

Competing in perfect summer-like conditions, Ennis broke the 12-year-old British record held by Denise Lewis with a fabulous 6906 points. After setting a meeting record in the 100m Hurdles with 12.81 and a new 200m PB of 22.88 and ending day one with 4113 points, 33 better than her overnight score at the European Championships in Barcelona, Ennis leapt to 6.51m in the Long Jump and set a new Javelin PB with 47.11m and capped her greatest Heptathlon competition with a solid 2:09.00 in the 800m to score her third win in a row in Gotzis. Her 6906 tally ranks No. 8 on the world all-time list. In the ranking of the best performances ever achieved at the Mosle Stadium Ennis ranks third behind meeting record holder Sabine Braun (6985, 1992) and Ghada Shouaa (6942, 1996).

Tatyana Chernova also produced a stand-out performance scoring 6774 points, 132 behind than Ennis. On the second day Chernova leapt to 6.44m in the Long Jump, speared the javelin to 53.21m and clocked 2:08.94 in the 800m. Lyudmila Yosipenko, fourth after six events, managed to take third place with a new PB of 6604 points thanks to her 2:15.28 in the two-lap event. Austra Skujte had to settle with fourth place with a new PB of 6493, 32 points ahead of Germany’s Lilli Schwarzkopf (6461). The heptathlon produced incredible depth with 22 athletes able to score more than 6000 points!

Van Alphen set a new Belgian record with 8519 points at the end of a highly entertaining Decathlon competition with eight men over the 8000 points barrier. Eelco Sintnicolaas, European Championships silver medallist in Barcelona, improved his PB of 8436 points and the Dutch record to 8506 points. Third was German Pascal Behrenbruch with 8433 points ahead of countryman Rico Freimuth (8322) and Leonel Suarez from Cuba (8289).

Heptathlon – event-by-event breakdown

Ennis picked up where she left off with an outstanding win in the Long Jump where she leapt to 6.51m (1010 points) on her third attempt after 6.23m in the opening round and a foul. The Sheffield star, who was the cover-girl on the official meeting poster, totalled 5123 points after five events and carved out a gap of 251 over Chernova who jumped 6.44m and took second place with 4872. Dafne Schippers also produced a remarkable performance with 6.49m which propelled her into third place overall with 4843 points with a slight margin of five points ahead of overnight second placer Skujte (6.31m).

Ennis continued on a high note with a splendid PB Javelin Throw of 47.11m and was on course to smash the British record of 6831 set by Denise Lewis in Talence in 2000. She needed to run the 800m in 2:14 to break the record, quite an easy task for Ennis who holds a PB of 2:07:81.

Before the 800m Ennis had a margin of 133 points over Chernova who speared the javelin to 53.71m, an outstanding result but not enough to win the event as Ghana’s Margaret Simpson produced a massive 55.90m with her third attempt.

The mission to break the British record was accomplished by Ennis who crowned a fantastic week-end with a second place finish in 2:09:00 behind Chernova who edged Ennis across the finish-line by 0.06.

Ennis celebrated her triumph waving the Union Jack in front of the very supportive Gotzis crowd in what could be a preview of this summer’s Olympic Games in London. After the competition she hugged her rival Chernova who was one of the first to congratulate the Briton.

"It was good to show that I am capable of a big score," she said. "The British record was in the back of my mind but I was not too focused on it. This weekend it was just about me preparing for the summer and making sure I am confident and I build on what I have done during the indoor season."

"The highlights of the weekend were the javelin PB and the Long Jump and of course the 200 metres which was brilliant. I have been trying to run under 23 seconds for so long. I have shown that the work I have done is paying off. I think it will take a big score to win the gold in London."

Chernova was delighted with her performance. "I am happy to have shown good results in the single event. I made a little mistake in the High Jump but I know what I have to do before the Olympics."

Decathlon -

Overnight leader Hans Van Alphen set his fourth PB of this weekend in the 110m Hurdles with 14.55 in the first heat but he was overhauled in the overall ranking by German Rico Freimuth who also set a new lifetime best with a remarkable 13.79 (1002 points) to finish second in his heat behind Canadian Damien Warner (13.78). In the overall ranking Freimuth led with 5665 points over Van Alphen (5239 points). Eelco Sintnicolaas from the Netherlands took third place with 5204 thanks to his 14.10. Pacal Behrenbruch from Germany (14.19) followed in fourth place with 5197 points. Eduard Mikhan from Belarus, who clocked 14.20, rounded out the top-five with 5144 points.

Germany took the top-two spots in the overall standings after the Discus Throw. Freimuth threw 47.26m to keep his leading position overall with 6068 points with a gap of 42 points over countryman Behrenbruch who finished second in the discus behind Mikhan. The athlete from Belarus set his PB with 48.81m (841 points) to take fourth overall with 5985 points. Van Alphen defended his third place following his 45.55m throw but his gap over Mikhan was just 30 points. Sintnicolaas (42.81m) was in fifth place with 5926 points ahead of the Pole Vault, his strongest event.

The Dutchman predictably produced the best score in the Pole Vault thanks to a 5.36m clearance for 1023 points and climbed into the lead with 6949 overtaking Freimuth who cleared a PB of 4.86m (868 points) by just 13 points before the javelin. Van Alphen also improved his PB by six centimetres to 4.96m to remain in third with 6913 points. Behrenbruch vaulted 4.86m and remained in contention for the podium, as he was just 55 points behind Sintnicolaas with 6884 points.

Sintnicolaas set a javelin PB with 63.59m (792 points) to keep his leading position with 7741 points and a gap of just eight points over Behrenbruch who finished third with 66.72m throw (839 points). Van Alphen continued his outstanding weekend with a 64.15m (800 points) and maintained his third place with 7713 points. It came down to the wire in the final event with the top three separated by just 28 points. Fourth after nine events was Freimuth with 7645 points. The winner in the javelin was Cuban Leonel Suarez who bounced back from a below-par first day with 71.99m in his favourite event and moved up from sixth place.

The battle for the win was far from over and van Alphen, who was in third coming into the final event, ran 4:20.87 to finish second behind Frenchman Gael Querin (4:18.76) to seal the victory and add his name to the prestigious list of Gotzis winners with a score of 8519 points, a new Belgian record. Sintnicolaas clocked 4:26.98 and finished runner-up just 13 points back in a dramatic competition.

"I did not believe this result it’s incredible," van Alphen said. "For me the highlight was the PB in the high jump where I improved from 2.00m to 2.06m. I saw that 2.09m was possible. I expected 8300 points but 8500 points is a dream come true."

"I started with the Decathlon at university but at the beginning my technique was bad. Now the pieces of the puzzle are coming together," said a delighted van Alphen, who won silver medal at the 2007 World University Games, finished fifth at the 2010 European Championships and 11th at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka. Last year he finished runner-up in Kladno behind Leonel Suarez and set his previous PB of 8200 points in Talence.

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF

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