Brianne Theisen-Eaton at the 2016 Hypo Meeting in Gotzis (© Getty Images)
Canadian duo Damian Warner and Brianne Theisen-Eaton repeated their victories from three years ago at the Hypo Meeting in Gotzis, winning with world-leading marks of 8523 and 6765 respectively at the IAAF Combined Events Challenge meeting on Sunday (28).
Last summer, the pair got silver medals at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 – in the case of Warner, behind Theisen-Eaton’s husband Ashton Eaton – but they climbed to the top of the podium again in the Austrian town thanks to strong second days which saw the pair maintain and extend slender overnight leads.
As was the case on Saturday, Warner got off to a flying start by winning the 110m hurdles in 13.72, a time which would certainly have been several tenths faster had the -1.1m/s wind been on his back rather than in his face.
Spain’s Jorge Urena was second in 14.24 while Germany’s Kai Kazmirek was third with 14.25. After six events, Warner increased his lead over Kazmirek to 76 points in the overall standings.
The Canadian, a good thrower, then finished second to France’s Kevin Mayer in the discus with 47.79m to bring his total to 6259, 244 more than Kazmirek, who had a modest mark of 39.56m. Mayer moved up to third overall thanks to his lifetime best of 48.89m.
The pole vault was held in rainy conditions and Kazmirek reduced the gap on Warner to 153 points after clearing 5.00m. The latter vaulted 4.70m, just 10 centimetres short of his best, to bring his score after eight events to 7078.
Mayer cleared 5.00m to keep his third place overall with 6912. Belgium’s Niels Pittomvils was the best vaulter, going over 5.20m.
Mayer moves up
Mayer continued his solid second day with a throw of 65.77m in the javelin, finishing third behind the Czech discipline winner Adam Sebastian Helcelet who threw a personal best of 67.11m.
The Frenchman’s effort propelled him into second place overall with 7737, just 60 points fewer than Warner, who was slightly below-par with a best throw of 58.72m.
But a tired Warner dug deep and clocked 4:32.83 in the 1500m, won by Urena in a personal best of 4:24.60, to finish the competition with 8523. It was the third-best total of Warner’s career and gave him a victory by 77 points over Mayer, with Kazmirek third with 8318.
“It was very special to win for the second time in Gotzis but it was a difficult competition," said Warner. "There were a lot of events like the long jump, the high jump, the javelin and the 1500m which I could have done better. There were a lot of ups and downs. I was very tired."
Mayer was perhaps the happiest decathlete this weekend after his second place which ensures he qualifies for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“It was a nerve-wracking weekend after the injury problems I have had," said Mayer. "I am happy that I finished with a big score. Now it’s all about Rio."
Theisen-Eaton wins again
Like Warner, Theisen-Eaton stayed in pole position in the heptathlon throughout Sunday.
After winning the long jump with 6.56m, she was almost assured of retaining her Gotzis title and getting a third victory in the Austrian town.
She had an advantage of 131 points over Germany’s 2008 world junior champion Carolin Schafer, who overtook Great Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson for second place thanks to her personal best of 6.31m. Johnson-Thompson jumped 6.17m, way down on her best of 6.93m, and so slipped to third place.
Latvia's world bronze medallist Laura Ikauniece-Admidina added more than a metre to her javelin best when she threw 54.83m to win the sixth discipline. She moved up to second place overall, just 89 behind Theisen-Eaton, who set a personal best of 47.74m.
Schafer slipped to third with one event to go after sending the javelin out to 48.20m while European indoor champion Johnson-Thompson continued her second-day decline and slipped to sixth place after a modest 36.66m.
Theisen-Eaton finished off Sunday when she came home second in her 800m heat, behind USA’s Barbara Nwaba, in 2:10.98 to bring her total to 6765, winning by 143 points from Ikauniece-Admidina, who clocked 2:14.77.
It was Theisen-Eaton's second-best score ever and was just 43 points shy of her national record set last year in Gotzis.
“It was a good competition," said Theisen-Eaton, who became just the fifth woman to win three times in Gotzis. "My priority was the javelin. I am working with a different approach compared to last year so I feel I am on the right track. I am trying to simulate what could happen in Rio. I did not come here thinking that I could win but I focused on executing each event well."
Ikauniece-Admidina was delighted with her runner-up spot in a national record of 6622.
"I am not in my best shape yet as it’s the start of the season but it was a good competition," said Ikauniece-Admidina, who plans to compete at the European Championships before the Olympics. "The weather was fine on the first day, but today the competition was disturbed by headwinds."
Schafer also set a personal best. Her score of 6557 is the best mark by a German heptathlete since 2012 when Lilli Schwarzkopf took the Olympic silver medal with 6649.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF