Simone Cairoli in the decathlon 400m at the Multistars meeting in Florence (© Organisers)
Italy’s Simone Cairoli and Nigeria’s Uhunoma Osazuwa are the surprise overnight leaders at the Multistars Trofeo Zerneri Acciai meeting in Florence, the second leg of the 2015 IAAF Combined Events Challenge.
In a close decathlon competition, Italian indoor heptathlon champion Cairoli leads by just six points over second-placed Pawel Wiesolek from Poland. It is the first time in the 28-year history of the event that an Italian decathlete has held the lead after the first day.
Cairoli’s current tally of 4086 is more than 150 points better than his previous best day-one score, but Wiesiolek is generally stronger across the five events on the second day.
Britain’s Liam Ramsay is currently in third place after five events with 4011, 37 points ahead of compatriot David Hall.
The host nation’s athletes got off to a strong start in the 100m, which opened the programme on a rainy Friday morning in the Luigi Ridolfi Stadium. Cairoli and Vincenzo Vigliotti clocked the fastest times, both crossing the line in 10.92.
The only other athlete able to run faster than 11 seconds was Great Britain’s David Hall, who clocked 10.94. Serbia’s pre-event favourite Mihail Dudas, the 2013 European indoor bronze medallist, clocked the fourth-fastest time with 11.00.
Cairoli was on fire and continued his good form, winning the long jump with 7.40m, just five centimetres shy of his PB. After two events, Cairoli maintained the overall lead ahead of Wiesiolak.
While Cairoli smashed his shot put PB, so too did Wiesiolek. Cairoli managed 12.85m, but Wiesiolek went significant farther with his 14.30m, giving him the overall lead after three events.
Cairoli then reduced Wiesiolek’s lead to just 21 points after clearing 1.98m in the high jump the Pole’s 1.95m. And after running more than half a second quicker than Wiesiolek in the 400m – 49.13 to 49.70 – Cairoli regained the lead in the final event of the first day.
But the star of the 400m was Hall, competing in his first senior decathlon. The 20-year-old clocked a PB of 46.46 to break the oldest Multistars meeting record on the books. The previous mark had belonged to fellow Briton Mark Bishop since 1989, six years before Hall was born.
The performance moved Hall up to fourth place behind compatriot Ramsay, who also ran a PB in the 400m with 47.56.
Cairoli will have to produce some huge PBs on the second day if he is to maintain his lead. But it looks more likely that Wiesiolek and Ramsay, who are similarly matched on day two, will catch him before the end of the competition.
Dudas withdrew from the competition after two events, while recently crowned Oceania champion Brent Newdick did likewise after four events.
“I had a good feeling coming to Florence,” said Cairoli. “This competition gives me an indication of what I have to work on to improve. I am happy because I came close to my best performances in all five events and I set a personal best in the shot put.
“I started with high jump and cross country but I decided to start with decathlon when I was in my second junior year,” added Cairoli of his background in the sport. “I train nine times a week, but I am not a full-time athlete, so it’s hard to combine athletics with my job.”
Osazuwa holds off Netsviatayeva
Nigeria’s Osazuwa finished the first day of the heptathlon as the overnight leader with 3609, just 69 points ahead of Katsiaryna Netsviatayeva of Belarus. African champion Marthe Koala of Burkina Faso currently sits in third place with 3407.
Koala, who trains in Mauritius, took an early lead after winning the 100m hurdles in 13.54, just 0.2 shy of the national record she set last month.
Osazuwa followed up her 13.86 in the 100m hurdles with a winning clearance of 1.81m in the high jump to clinch the overall lead after two events ahead of Estonia’s Mari Klaup. Last year’s Multistars runner-up Netsviatayeva was third after two events, having clocked 14.12 in the 100m hurdles and cleared 1.72m in the high jump.
The Belarusian moved up one place after posting the best mark of the day in the shot put with 14.47m, but Osazuwa’s throw of 12.51m was just enough to stay in the overall lead by 23 points. Osazuwa then extended her lead in the final event after running half a second quicker than Netsviatayeva, 24.59 to 25.08.
The Nigerian will go into the second day with a 69-point lead over her nearest rival, but Netsviatayeva is significantly stronger in the final two events and looks set to challenge for the victory.
Koala moved into third place overall after positing the fastest time in the 200m with 24.51, but she will be hard-pushed to maintain that position on the second-day. Slovakia’s Lucia Mokrasova, currently 29 points behind Koala in fourth, is strong in the final five events.
But the big day-two danger will be former Multistars winner Sofia Yfantidou. The 30-year-old from Greece is currently in seventh, almost 300 points adrift of Osazuwa, but could make up most of that deficit in the javelin; an event in which she has a best of 56.96m.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF