Andrei Krauchanka, winner of the decathlon at the European Championships (© Getty Images)
Andrei Krauchanka of Belarus ignored the less-than-ideal weather conditions to piece together a world-leading 8616 score to win the decathlon at the European Championships in Zurich, while Antoinette Nana Djimou successfully defended her heptathlon title.
Both athletes climbed up the overall standing on the second day of their respective contests to strike gold with the second-best marks of their careers. The combined events at the European Championships form part of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge.
Germany’s Kai Kazmirek, the European under-23 champion, led overnight with 4492 in the decathlon after finishing first in two events and second in two others, giving him a 129-point lead.
A strong first-day performer, Kazmirek clocked 10.75 in the 100m and took the lead after a 7.68m in the long jump. He dropped to second after a modest shot put, but retook the lead after a 47.34 victory in the 400m.
Thanks to a 2.22m personal best and equal championship best performance in the high jump, Krauchanka ended the day in second with 4363, 53 points ahead of Germany’s Arthur Abele.
On the second day, Krauchanka dropped to third after a 14.20 run in the 110m hurdles, but a near-PB in the discus (47.46m) and a solid 5.10m clearance in the pole vault lifted him to the lead for good after eight events.
A 68.11m throw in the javelin cushioned his lead before he wrapped up the two days with a 4:39.39 run in the 1500m. His tally was just one point shy of his personal best from Gotzis in 2007.
Twenty-two-year-old Kevin Mayer of France chiselled together a consistent two days to finish second with a 8521-point tally, 95 behind the winner, with Russian Ilya Shkurenev taking a second successive bronze with 8498. Both were personal bests.
With this being Krauchanka’s first decathlon of the season, he won’t yet make a mark on the overall standings in the IAAF Combined Events Challenge. But seventh-place finisher Rico Freimuth now moves into the overall lead ahead of Eelco Sintnicolaas, who finished fourth here with 8478.
Nana Djimou leaves it late
Defending heptathlon champion Antoinette Nana Djimou didn’t move into the lead until the penultimate event, and even then it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that she would win.
The French all-rounder was fourth after the first day of competition. Propelled by a sensational 1.97m clearance in the high jump, the best ever in championship combined-events competition, Belgium’s Naftissatou Thiam held a narrow six-point lead at the end of the first day.
The 19-year-old tallied 3851 points, just six ahead of German Carolin Schafer who collected 3845, thanks largely to a solid 13.20 in the 100m hurdles and her 23.84 victory in the 200m.
In a tantalisingly close competition, world indoor champion Nadine Broersen was third with 3841, just ten points behind the leader, while Nana Djimou was sitting on 3793.
Nana Djimou opened the second day with a 6.25m leap in the long jump before breaking the competition open with a 54.18m effort in the javelin throw which put her in the lead for good.
Having set an 800m PB of 2:11.11 earlier this year, many expected Broersen to come back fighting in the final event to clinch the victory, but Nana Djimou pushed hard and finished ahead of the Dutchwoman with a PB of 2:15.22 to hold on to her overall lead. She scored 6551 to Broersen’s 6498.
Thiam, who’ll celebrate her 20th birthday on 19 August, tallied 6423 points to take bronze and her first accolade at the senior level.
Despite missing the gold medal, Broersen could at least take some consolation in the fact that her score propels her to the top of the overall standings in the IAAF Combined Events Challenge with a substantial lead over Lilli Schwarzkopf.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF