Vanessa Spinola at the 2016 Multistars Trofeo Zerneri Acciai in Florence (© Organisers)
Norway’s Lars Rise and Brazil’s Vanessa Spinola both produced strong second days to win at the 29th edition of the Multistars Trofeo Zerneri Acciai in Florence, Italy, battling with the elements as well as their rivals on a rainy day to triumph in the third leg of the 2016 IAAF Combined Events Challenge on Saturday (30).
Rise led a surprising Norwegian double in the decathlon, finishing first with 7868 to beat his compatriot Martin Roe, the first day leader, by just 13 points.
USA’s Miller Moss produced the most significant change to the overall standings after the first event on the second day, moving up from fifth to second after winning the fourth and fastest heat of the 110m hurdles in 14.44 despite a headwind of -0.6m/s.
Roe clocked 15.52 in the first heat with a tailwind of 1.4m/s but saw his lead shrink to 46 points over Moss.
However, Roe bounced back and sent the discus out to 46.25m, just 11 centimetres shy of his personal best, to finish second in this event and have a 106-point lead over Moss who threw 42.68m.
The best man in the discus was Italy’s Michele Calvi, who improved his personal best to 49.14m to move up to third.
The pole vault was to produce a major change to the overall standings. Moss cleared 4.85m to take the overall lead by 33 points from Roe who vaulted 4.35m, while Belgium’s Niels Pittomvils won the event with a clearance of 5.05m to move up from sixth to third overall.
Rising to the occasion in the javelin
However, Rise jumped up from fourth after eight events and into the lead when he produced the second-best javelin throw in the history of the Multistars meeting with 68.77m, going in front after the penultimate discipline with a 22-point lead over his compatriot Roe.
Roe crossed the line fourth in 4:34.10 in the 1500m but it was not enough to overtake Rise, who gritted his teeth and clocked 4:35.52. Moss, meanwhile, ran 4:37.48 to clinch third place overall with 7712.
“We did not expect a Norwegian double as there were athletes with better personal bests,” said Rise, who finished just 74 points short of his career best set in 2011. "I could not be happier with my performance this weekend. We were very close and I had to hold on to defend the leading position."
Pan American bronze medallist Spinola overtook Nigeria’s overnight leader Uhunoma Osazuwa after the long jump, the first event on the second day, when she leapt 5.99m.
The African Games champion had held the lead through the first four events on Friday but could only jump a disappointing 5.76m – when she might have been expecting to go beyond six metres – to fall 10 points behind the Brazilian in the overall standings.
Last year’s Multistars champion Sofia Yfantidou, one of the best javelin throwers among elite heptathletes, then produced best ever javelin throw at Multistars with the new specification implement with an outstanding throw of 56.88m. The Greek athlete climbed from 10th to second and went into the final event just 65 points behind Spinola, who produced a personal best of 46.31m.
But Spinola is a superior 800m runner and she clocked 2:14.87 in the final event to clinch the victory with 6100, just three points off her personal best set last year.
New Zealand’s Portia Bing won the final discipline with 2:12.47 to move from fourth to second with a final tally of 5987, overtaking Yfantidou who crossed the finish line in 2:20.78 to finish third overall with 5953.
“The whole competition was good, but I could do better especially during the first day," said Spinola. "I improved during the second day when I set my personal best in the javelin.
"It would be very special to compete at the Olympic Games on home soil in Rio de Janeiro but I have not achieved the qualifying standard, so I will train during the next month in Formia to try to achieve the standard in Gotzis at the end of May."
First-day leader Osasuwa, a weak thrower who could only reach 39.53m in the javelin, clearly just went through the motions in the 800m and finished in 2:27:05 to slip down to fifth overall with 5795.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF