Mon. May 27th, 2024
Saga Vanninen (Photo: Raul Mee)

The conditions were great, Sofie Dokter was a revelation, the Germans weren’t messing and Saga Vanninen looked amazing.


On the first day of the U20 heptathlon, like the first day of the U23 decathlon, it was a hot one, already 30 degrees by 10am.  And the first heat was a cracker. German’s Serena Riedel raced to a huge lifetime best, improving from 14.85 to 14.25. Behind her, every other woman in the heat also ran a lifetime best, all the way through to Sweden’s Tuvalisa Rosenquist who agonisingly just missed out on dipping under 15 seconds for the first time, reducing her PB from 15.02 to 15.00.

In the second heat, there was drama as Austria’s Sophie Kreiner tumbled at the fifth hurdle and exited the competition. And then fireworks in the final heat, as Finland’s Saga Vanninen ran a quarter-of-a-second lifetime best of 13.55. GB’s Abi Pawlett was second in 13.75, just a few hundredths off her best, and Sofie Dokter of the Netherlands third in a PB of 14.01.

After the first event:

  1. Vanninen 1043
  2. Pawlett 1014
  3. Dokter 977
  4. Cosculluela 954
  5. Dehning 947
Marie Dehning, Pippi Lotta Enok and Anja Dlauhy in the hurdles (Photo: Marko Mumm EKJL)


The key height in the second event was 1.72m. In Group B, the group with the higher heights, it was the height at which almost half the field peaked. But in Group A, it was a gateway height to some big breakthroughs.

The athletes in Group B moved largely as a solid pack, starting at 1.57 and everyone clearing every height until 1.72. That was the end of the road for 5 athletes, and another 2 maxed out at 1.75. Only Vanninen, Atene Šliževiciute of Lithuania and Dokter were able to go higher, the first two to 1.78 and Dokter clearing 1.81.

But in Group A, 1.72 represented new lifetime bests for Sophia Mulder of the Netherlands, Marie Dehning of Germany and Valeriya Mukhobrod of Ukraine, although the system insisted on displaying heights some 12cm higher than the Ukrainian was actually jumping.  However, the star of the high jump was the home athlete, Estonia’s Pippi Lotta Enok. She came into the competition with a lifetime best of 1.66 and equalled that before going on to clear 1.69, 1.72 and 1.75.

After 2 events:

  1. Vanninen 1996
  2. Dokter 1968
  3. Pawlett 1893
  4. Käyhkö 1851
  5. Šliževiciute 1848
Pippi Lotta Enok: started with a PB of 1.66, finished with 1.75 (Photo: Marko Mumm for EKJL)


And then, Vanninen stamped her authority on the competition. After the first round of the shot, she was over 1.5m ahead of anyone else with a throw of 13.93. She then unleashed a lifetime best of 14.90 in the second round, which took her 200 points ahead of Sofie Dokter in second. Dokter threw 12.30, and the three Germans also all threw over 12m, as did Sophie Reid of Sweden (12.85) and Anisiya Lochman (12.02). Noemie Desailly of France compensated for her relatively weaker high jump (1.48) with the second longest throw of the competition, 13.09.

After 3 events:

  1. Vanninen 2850
  2. Dokter 2649
  3. Pawlett 2536
  4. Dehning 2511
  5. Riedel 2492


Day 1 ended the same way it had started, still 29 degrees at 1800, and with some very fast times. Fastest of all was Abigail Pawlett in a PB of 24.32, who was pleased overall with her performance.  She said after the 200m:

“I was hoping to be a little bit higher up than I was – my shot was quite a bit below what I did when I scored my PB. Hopefully I made up for it with that 200, because that’s about half a second quicker than I did in Bedford.”

Britain’s Abi Pawlett in the long jump (Photo: Raul Mee)

Marie Dehning was the next fastest in a PB of 24.40, followed by Germany’s Lara Siemer (24.43) and Sofie Dokter (24.60). Noemie Desailly won her heat with the next fastest time of 24.71, a PB, and Pippi Lotta Enok had her 2nd lifetime best of the day, taking 0.37 off her PB to run 24.75.

Vanninen’s run of 24.85 secured her a Day 1 total of 3751 points, 178 ahead of Sofie Dokter, with Abi Pawlett in third and the three Germans Dehning, Riedel and Siemer lined up behind her.

At the end of Day 1:

  1. Vanninen 3751
  2. Dokter 3573
  3. Pawlett 3486
  4. Dehning 3454
  5. Riedel 3394


Day 2 started and 7 of the top jumps were new or equal PBs for the heptathletes. Longest of all was, of course, Saga Vanninen. She extended her lifetime best of 6.17 to 6.34, while Serina Riedel shadowed her, also extending her PB of 6.17 to just one cm below the Finn, 6.33.  Neea Käyhkö had a super PB jump of 6.31, while Sofie Dokter (6.14 PB), Abi Pawlett (6.09 =PB) and Pippi Lotta Enok (6.00) were also over 6m. All of this in the face of gusting and unpredictable winds, at times the wind varying hugely between simultaneous jumps on parallel runways.

The champion in waiting, Saga Vanninen (Photo: Raul Mee)

Vanninen stretched her lead further over Dokter to 241 points, while the Germans started to gather ominously around Abi Pawlett in 3rd place.

After 5 events:

  1. Vanninen 4707
  2. Dokter 4466
  3. Pawlett 4363
  4. Riedel 4347
  5. Dehning 4279


Marie Dehning had a big throw in the first round of Group B, in the realms of her 45m lifetime best, but unfortunately it was a foul, and her best would be 41.12. Also in Group B, Tuvalisa Rosenquist had the 4th PB of her weekend (with another to follow in the 800m), with a first time 40m+ throw, 40.04.  The other 40m+ throws belonged to Pippa Lotta Enok with 41.22, Olivija Vaitaityte of Lithuania 42.73, Sophie Reid 42.96 and the longest of all, of course from the Finn, Saga Vanninen’s 47.01 with her first throw.

Like teammate Holly Mills in the U23 competition, GB’s Abi Pawlett is improving her javelin in every competition and, like Mills, also approaching 40m. She threw 35.09 in the first round, and every one of her throws was over her previous PB. But she was pushed down to 5th place by the stronger throws from the Germans. After no-jumping in the long jump, Noemie Desailly had a little consolation with a javelin PB of 36.93 with her final throw.  

After 6 events:

  1. Vanninen 5509
  2. Dokter 5114
  3. Dehning 4968
  4. Riedel 4958
  5. Pawlett 4936


And that was largely how things remained going into the 800m, save for an inspired run from Pippi Lotta Enok delight the home crowd and move from 7th into 5th place. Every single one of the top ten smashed their heptathlon personal bests. Ahead of the final event Vanninen was almost guaranteed both a PB score and a first-time 6000 mark but, nevertheless, she gave it her all with an 800m PB of 2:24.62 to take her to 6271 points, for 4th on Finland’s all-time list.

Gold, silver and bronze (Photo: Raul Mee)

Dokter was delighted with her silver medal and 300+ point PB of 5878, and Marie Dehning with her bronze and 5778 PB.

Final results:

  1. Vanninen 6271 PB
  2. Dokter 5878 PB
  3. Dehning 5778 PB
  4. Riedel 5730 PB
  5. Enok 5634 PB

The full results can be found here.

Main photo of Saga Vanninet by Raul Mee.

The Euro U20 heptathlon field (Marko Mumm for EKJL)