Review: Frankfurt, Apeldoorn, Prague, Växjö and Linz, 13-14 February 2021

Another weekend, another multitude of multievent action. This weekend, the action included competitions in Linz (Austria), Växjö (Sweden), Prague (Czech Republic), Apeldoorn (Netherlands) and Frankfurt (Germany).

LINZ

Anticipation was focused on the comeback of Dominik Distelberger, but it was still a little too soon for the most famous Dominik in decathlon. His heel continued to trouble him, and he retired after clearing 1.85 in the high jump and did not start day 2. But – much to his team-mate’s surprise – he wasn’t actually in the lead at the end of day 1. Swiss-based Jan Mitsche was going well, with lifetime bests in the 60m and long jump, and 3015 to Distelberger’s 2983 after 4 events. However, the 19-year old also had injury trouble, and his ankle didn’t allow him to continue in the competition after the hurdles on day 2. But lots of positive events on which to build.

The national title was eventually won by Daniel Bertschler, scoring 5275 in his first senior heptathlon. He gained a title, but he lost a national record, as Matthias Lasch claimed Bertschler’s U18 record with his 5112. The pentathlon was won by Chiara-Belinda Schuler in 3873.       

The full results can be found here.

VÄXJÖ

Fredrik Samuelsson finished 4th in the European Indoors in Glasgow in 2019, just 17 points short of Henrik Dagård’s Swedish record. But qualifying in 2021 is a more challenging affair, with only 5 slots available once allocations for 2019/20 outdoor world leads and places for the defending champions are taken into account (although Uibo has since withdrawn). Five is a very small number for a lot of talented Europeans, and Fredrik has been speaking up about the shrinking of combined events fields, particularly to 12 indoors.  At the close of the weekend, decathletes of Europe had the top 12 scores in the world in 2020.

Like so many athletes during Covid-19, Fredrik’s performance in Växjö – a competition put on especially to support his qualification bid – was achieved largely on his own. He had 3 others, including Marcus Nilsson, for company for the first 3 events but after that Fredrik was entirely on his own. That didn’t stop him coming close to 6000, scoring 5931, over 200 points better than his performance at nationals a few weeks previously.

Samuelsson’s marks were:

7.15-7.41-14.80-2.04-8.20-4.84-2:48.89 = 5931

PRAGUE

While much of the weekend’s action was dominated by athletes in their first few seasons as seniors, sometimes you just need to see a familiar face. Adam Sebastian Helcelet won his 4th indoor national title on Sunday, but more importantly he finished the competition without injury. His series included the longest shot put of his career – 15.64m – and his overall score would have been close to 6000 had he not suffered from cramp in the last 400m of the 1000m.  

Ondřej Kopećky finished second in 5656, and František Doubek (still U20) was third with 5412 in his first senior heptathlon.  Dorota Skřivanová and Kateřina Dvořaková had a very close competition in the pentathlon to finish first and second with 4238 and 4211 respectively.

  • Helcelet: 7.10-7.30-15.64-1.95-7.98-4.90-2:53.83 = 5913
  • Kopećky: 7.18-7.17-13.10-1.98-8.29-4.60-1:44.41 = 5656
  • Doubek: 7.23-6.80-13.08-1.95-8.60-4.50-2:45.13 = 5412
  • Skřivanová:8.76-1.71-13.07-5.98-2:19.13 = 4238
  • Dvořaková: 8.32-1.71-10.92-6.20-2:22.85 = 4211

You can find the full results here.

APELDOORN

The Dutch combined event championships are rapidly becoming one of the most enjoyable competitions in the world. Like the Germans, Estonians, US and French, the depth in the Netherlands is such that even without the big names (such as Sintnicolaas and Braun), you can guarantee a really competitive two days.

But one big name did make an appearance in Apeldoorn, the 2014 World Indoor Champion, Nadine Broersen. Nadine won her title in Poland 7 years ago (with 4830), and she already has a firm place in the field in Poland next month. So, this weekend was simply about preparation, and she prepared well. She won with 4514 (6th in the world) ahead of Melissa de Haan (4232) and Anne van de Wiel (4148).   

In the heptathlon, it was a much closer affair, and going into the final event there were only 51 points between Rik Taam in the lead and Rody de Wolff in third, with Sven Jansons between them in second. Taam and Jansons had swapped the lead between them on Day 1, and the previous evening had been even closer, with only 13 points covering the first three.

But Taam stretched away in the final event, running 10 seconds faster than the other two in the 1000m, and adding the national indoor title to his outdoor title from 2020. Rik’s final score was 5903, to Rody’s 5800 and Sven’s 5755 in his first senior heptathlon. Sven Roosen scored 5706 for fourth, also in his first senior competition.

  • Taam: 6.92-7.14-13.68-1.96-8.17-4.65-2:35.31 = 5903
  • de Wolff: 7.11-7.26-14.09-1.96-8.21-4.75-2:45.35 = 5800
  • Jansons: 6.92-7.37-13.03-1.93-8.15-4.65-2:48.24 = 5755
  • Roosen:7.09-7.16-14.02-1.90-8.11-4.35-2:38.59 = 5706
  • Broersen: 8.46-1.82-14.35-6.02-2:20.86 = 4514
  • De Haan: 8.79-1.79-13.82-5.49-2:19.33 = 4232
  • Van der Wiel: 8.52- 1.70-11.70-5.85-2:19.18 = 4148

You can find the full results here.

FRANKFURT

“The feeling is great, to know you are one of the young decathletes, the future of decathlon” said Simon Ehammer in the summer of 2020. “And I think Ehammer and Bechmann will have a great showdown in Bergen!”

Last weekend we had a first taste of what the duel between two of the best U23 athletes in Europe might look like. The competition took place in Frankfurt, home ground for the 2019 European Indoor 5th placer Andreas Bechmann and – since the end of 2020 – the German U23 decathlon champion Jannis Wolff.

Ehammer had previously travelled to Germany in 2020 to compete against Bechmann in the Frankfurt Sommer Cup, where he had taken a Swiss victory over 3 events. But with 4 more events in the mix, how would Ehammer’s mad hurdles and long jump stack up against Bechmann’s superior vertical jumps?  

Pretty closely, it would turn out. Ehammer wasn’t quite on the same insane trajectory from a week earlier, but his events were strong. In the 60m, 6.82 to Bechmann’s 7.02. Long jump, 7.68 to 7.41. Shot, 14.78 to 14.08.  But then things switched in the high jump.  Simon cleared 1.95, but Bechmann went on to 1.98. And 2.01. And 2.04. and 2.07. And then, in a lifetime best indoors or out, Andi went over 2.10.

At the end of day 1, Ehammer led Bechmann by 56 points. Even with the hurdles to come, would that be enough to hold off the German’s stronger final two events?

However, that wasn’t the only story on Day 1. Although Bechmann left Ehammer, Nico Beckers and Jannis Wolff far behind in the high jump, he wasn’t jumping alone. Eighteen-year-old Jente Hauttekeete, competing in the U20 event, was still with Bechmann at 2.10, and both men cleared the height. That was a big PB for the young Belgian, adding 6cm to his previous best mark.

But hang on. Hauttekeete had had a pretty good series so far. A 7.07 hurdles, 7.33 long jump, huge 15.64 shot and then 2.10. All PBs and he sat on 3476 points.  Could he be on for the world junior record?

There are, of course, two world U20 records. The one with the U20 implements, and the one with the senior implements. The first was held by Spanish long jumper Eusebio Caceres, who scored 5984 at the Spanish junior championships in 2010. The second record is held by Gunnar Nixon, the 2012 World U20 decathlon champion, who scored 6022 to win the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville in 2012, a few days after his 19th birthday.

Caceres’ mark was definitely within reach, and Jente had another brilliant day on Sunday. He worked out what he needed to do in the 1000m to break the record, and he did that easily, running 2:46.71 to score a new World U20 record of 6062.

1000m to go – Beckers, Hauttekeete, Bechmann and Ehammer (Photo: Athletix.ch)

“I went to Frankfurt without any expectation, to be honest,” Jente told Decathletes of Europe afterwards. “I just wanted to do a heptathlon, because there was no possibility of an U20 heptathlon in Belgium.”

“We knew that the national record was possible, but it is very strong – 5820 by Jaan Bal 2 years ago. But the first day went very well with huge PBs and so we started calculating and saw that it was possible with a decent second day – but only if I didn’t make any mistakes in the hurdles and in the pole vault. I needed 3 attempts in my first height in the PV and that was a very thrilling moment! But after those 2 events went well, there was a good chance to break the record.”

He continued, “I had to run 2:54 for the world record and 2:52 for 6000 points. I really wanted that 6000 and so I ran a big 6 seconds PB. I am very happy with the results over the 2 days, because I broke 5 out of 7 PBs in individual events.”

The other success on Day 1 was for Vanessa Grimm, with a big new PB of 4415 in the pentathlon, taking her to 11th on the world lists (and 8th in the European). She scored PBs in the 60H (6.59), high jump (1.75), long jump (6.19) and shot (14.75).  With Nadine Broersen and Xenia Kriszan already qualified automatically ahead of her on the European lists, she is in contention for the European Indoors.

Back to the senior heptathlon and it went to form on the second day. Ehammer delivered his trademark scintillating hurdles (7.83 to Bechmann’s 8.62) and Andi put 40cm between himself and Simon in the pole vault (clearing 5.20 to Ehammer’s 4.80). Going into the 1000m Ehammer was ahead by 126 points, but Bechmann’s 1000m PB is almost 10 seconds (and almost 100 points) faster than Ehammer’s. It was going to be close.

And it was. Ehammer ran 2:51.93 to score 6092 and improve his own PB (5915), take Andri Oberholzer’s Swiss record (5940), exceed 6000 points and leap over Risto Lillemets’ world lead. Bechmann ran 2:42.38 to score 6057, his second best ever heptathlon, and joint third in the world.

Final results:

  • Ehammer: 6.82-7.73-14.78-1.95-7.83-4.80-2:51.93 = 6092
  • Bechmann: 7.02-7.41-14.08-2.10-8.62-5.20-2:43.38 = 6057
  • Hauttekeete (U20): 7.07-7.33-15.64-2.10-8.06-4.70-2:46.71 = 6062  

You can find the full results here:

So, how did Simon feel after a week of rollercoaster emotions?

“It was a fu… hard weekend!” he said (we hear you, Simon). “I’m really happy that I could compete with good, if not amazing, results. Now time to focus on Toruń.”

And so onto the European Indoors in Toruń. As of 14 February, the world lists are as follows:

  1. Simon Ehammer (SUI) 6092
  2. Risto Lillemets (EST) 6089
  3. Maksim Andraloits (BLR) 6057,
  4. (=3) Andreas Bechmann (GER) 6057
  5. Darko Pešić (MNE) 6036
  6. Vitaly Zhuk (BLR) 6010
  7. Rik Taam (NED) 6001
  8. Leo Neugebauer (GER) 5960
  9. Yury Yaremich (BLR) 5950
  10. Andri Oberholzer (SUI) 5940
  11. Fredrik Samuelsson (SWE) 5931
  12. Adam Sebastian Helcelet (CZE) 5913

A field size of 16 would allow all these athletes over 5900 (excluding Neugebauer in the NCAA system and limiting each country to two) to join Kevin Mayer, Kai Kazmirek, Pieter Braun, Janek Õiglane, Paweł Wiesiołek and Jorge Ureña in Toruń.

As Fredrik highlights, is that really so difficult to fit into the European Indoor Championships timetable?  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *