Norwegian decathlete Markus Rooth (© Imago)
Markus Rooth overtook compatriot Sander Skotheim in the final three disciplines to take a narrow decathlon victory at Multistars, while Annik Kalin dominated the heptathlon at the World Athletics Combined Events Tour Gold meeting in Grosseto on Sunday (1).
Rooth’s winning score of 8307 was a Norwegian record, and Skotheim’s runner-up tally of 8298 also exceeded the previous national mark. Kalin, meanwhile, set a Swiss record of 6398 to win by almost 400 points.
European U20 silver medallist Skotheim, still a teenager until the end of May, held the overnight lead after setting PBs in all five events in what is his first senior decathlon. But the 19-year-old was overtaken by his marginally older compatriot as both men produced huge PBs.
Kalin, meanwhile, led the heptathlon from the first event and smashed her PB by more than 200 points.
Skotheim started as he meant to go on, setting a 100m PB of 11.17, but several men were quicker. France’s Arthur Prevost was the quickest overall in that event, clocking 10.66, while Italian indoor heptathlon record-holder Dario Dester set a PB of 10.76. Estonian champion Kristjan Rosenberg finished third in 10.85 ahead of his compatriot Risto Lillemets (10.90).
Skotheim leapt up the standings after the long jump as he produced the best marks of the day: a wind-legal PB of 7.74m (1.3m/s) and a marginally wind-aided 7.77m (2.1m/s). At the end of the event Skotheim was third in the overall standings behind Dester, who equalled his 7.61m PB, and Norway’s Markus Rooth (7.70m).
Pieter Braun, the 2015 European U23 champion, topped the shot put after setting a PB of 15.67m, elevating him to third overall. Rooth improved his outdoor PB to 14.25m to take the lead from Dester, who improved his PB to 13.90m.
After setting a shot put PB of 13.81m, Skotheim added six centimetres to his high jump PB – substantial in decathlon terms – with a 2.16m clearance. With just two other men jumping higher than 2.00m, it gave the young Norwegian a comfortable lead of 127 points over his compatriot Rooth and Dester, both of whom cleared 1.95m. Braun cleared 1.92m and slipped to fourth.
Skotheim ended the day with a fifth PB, clocking 48.76 for 400m to bring his day-one tally to 4370. With Dester running 47.76, it meant Skotheim’s winning margin reduced slightly to 108 points over the Italian, who currently sits in second place. Rooth and Braun, who ran 49.52 and 48.71 respectively, remain in third and fourth overall.
Prevost, as was the case in the 100m, was the fastest overall in the 400m, running 47.60 to elevate him to fifth overall in the standings.
Skotheim’s run of PBs continued on day two as he clocked 14.81 (-0.6m/s) in the 110m hurdles, but his lead was reduced to just 41 points as Dester ran 14.40 and Rooth clocked 14.46. Brazil’s José Fernando Ferreira Santana was fastest overall with 14.27, while Braun recorded a solid 14.58 but then withdrew from the competition with a foot injury.
As was the case in the hurdles, Skotheim’s throw in the discus (43.67m) was a PB by default as it was the first time he had contested that discipline with senior implements. It kept him afloat in the lead, but Rooth overtook Dester after throwing 45.80m to the Italian’s 41.65m PB.
The pole vault was a turning point, namely for 20-year-old Rooth, who scaled a lifetime best of 5.05m. Skotheim managed just 4.65m, and the 40-centimetre differential proved costly for the teenager as Rooth moved into the lead.
Prevost was second best in the pole vault with 4.95m, while Dester vaulted 4.65m and remained in third place.
Skotheim narrowed the gap on Rooth after throwing a PB of 61.55m in the javelin. Rooth managed 60.83m, while Santana topped the event with 62.70m, moving up to sixth overall.
Rooth went into the final discipline with a 34-point advantage – worth roughly five seconds in 1500m terms. Skotheim went for it and, working off the likes of Dester, produced a huge PB of 4:29.11. But Rooth also uncorked the run of his life and stayed within a few seconds of his younger compatriot, setting a PB of 4:33.08.
It meant Rooth held on for victory and was rewarded with a national record of 8307. Skotheim’s score of 8298 – the second-best mark in history by a teenager – also exceeded the previous Norwegian record of 8228, set by Martin Roe at the 2018 edition of Multistars in Florence.
“Grosseto is my lucky place,” said Rooth, who becomes the third Norwegian to win the Multistars decathlon after Lars Rise in 2016 and Roe in 2018 and 2021. “I had a great decathlon with some ups and downs. I am super excited, especially with my PB in the long jump and in the pole vault. I came from behind. I am not a first-day guy, but I tried to catch up at the end. I am now qualified for the European Championships in Munich and I would be excited with a good performance there.”
Dester finished third with 8109, improving his own Italian U23 record and moving to second on the Italian all-time list.
Heptathlon masterclass from Kalin
The 22-year-old was the fastest in the 100m hurdles, winning in 13.43 (-1.1m/s) – just 0.06 shy of her PB – to take an early lead. Italian indoor record-holder Sveva Gerevini improved her PB to 13.60 to finish second overall.
Poland’s Paulina Ligarska topped the high jump with a PB of 1.83m, moving her from 14th to second overall. Kalin, meanwhile, cleared 1.77m which was enough to hold on to pole position.
Ligarska kept up the pressure on Kalin, winning the shot put with 14.00m. But Kalin added 62 centimetres to her PB, throwing 13.81m to maintain a 23-point lead over Ligarska. Compatriot Geraldine Ruckstuhl, the 2019 European U23 champion, threw 13.88m.
Kalin ended the day with a 24.50 run over 200m, just 0.04 shy of her PB and almost a second quicker than Ligarska’s 25.48 effort. It brought Kalin’s day-one score to 3715, remaining on course for a significant heptathlon PB. Gerevini’s 23.93 was the fastest 200m clocking of the day, moving the Italian up to third place overall.
Kalin started the second day on a high note, long jumping 6.55m – just one centimetre shy of her PB and her best ever within a heptathlon – to extend her overall lead. Ligarska, however, recorded three fouls and exited the competition. It meant Gerevini – who set an outdoor PB of 6.12m – moved up into second place overall.
Kalin set a javelin PB of 49.11m to remain on course to break the Ruckstuhl’s Swiss record of 6391. Austria’s Chiara Schuler set a PB of 50.34m to move up into second place while Spain’s European U23 silver medallist Claudia Conte matched Kalik’s 49.11m and moved into fourth place overall. Gerevini slipped down to third after throwing 38.44m. Two-time Multistars winner Sofia Ifantidou was the best performer in the event with 51.39m.
Kalik’s 2:20.45 clocking in the 800m brought her winning score to 6398. Although it was just 22 points shy of the World Championships qualifying mark, she achieved her other target of breaking the Swiss record.
“It’s amazing. I’ve not been able to take part in any heptathlon competition since 2020 because of a back injury,” said Kalin, whose next heptathlon will be in Götzis at the end of this month. “Every event was good; I had no down event. I achieved the qualifying standard for the European Championships in Munich and this performance should be enough to qualify for the World Championships in Eugene.”
Gerevini finished second to Poland’s Edyta Bielska in the 800m, 2:08.66 to 2:09.81, to set a lifetime best of 6011, becoming the first Italian heptathlete since 2003 to break 6000 points. Conte completed the podium with 5914.
“It’s a step forward in my career,” said Gerevini. “It means a lot to add more than 100 points to my previous PB. I was not in my best shape because of a small injury problem. My goal is to break Gertrud Bacher’s Italian record.”
Diego Sampaolo for World Athletics