A world lead, 5 national records, 3 first-time 6000 point scores, copious pole vault no-heights and some huge shot putting. Three significant multi-events took place across Europe last weekend. The annual combined events meeting in Tallinn, the Swiss combined events championships in Magglingen and the open competition at the Serbian combined event championships in Belgrade.
Like Oprah Winfrey distributing free cars to members of her studio audience, PBs were flowing freely in the 60 metre runs in Switzerland, Estonia and Serbia.
First result to come through was Simon Ehammer in Magglingen who ran 6.81, improving his PB by 0.13 seconds. Behind him Lino Wunderlin ran 6.99, and Andri Oberholzer 7.14 in his first indoor competition since 2018, a PB by one hundredth of a second. In the second heat Matthias Steinmann ran a PB of 7.28.
A few hours later in Tallinn Edgaras Benkunskas celebrated a new PB of 7.13 in the first heat of the day. In the second heat the first 3 athletes all ran PBs, but only after two faulty starts. Hans Christian Hausenberg, fresh from an extended training camp in Tenerife, equalled his lifetime best of 6.82. Risto Lillemets dipped under 7 seconds for the first time ever with 6.97, and Vitaly Zhuk ran 7.04, the first of his 7 PBs of the weekend. German U20 decathlon champion Marcel Meyer ran a lifetime best of 7.20.
But at the Serbian Championships in Belgrade, Montenegro’s Darko Pešić was also in action, competing as a guest. His 60m of 7.19 broke his 10 year old 60m personal best and set the scene for what would be a golden weekend for him.
- MAGGLINGEN: 1. Simon 951 2. Lino 886 3. Andri 833
- TALLINN: 1. Hans-Christian 947 2. Risto 893 3. Vitaly 868
- BELGRADE: 1. Darko 816
The long jump brought the first national record of the weekend. Darko jumped 7.24 to extend his PB (and current NR) by 12cm, and he would go onto set 2 more national records over the course of the weekend.
In Tallinn, Tim Nowak jumped the same distance to also achieve a personal best. Vitaly Zhuk jumped over 7m for the first time indoors (7.01) and Risto Lillemets extended his lifetime best to 7.28. Hans-Christian had a series of 7.62, 7.54 and 7.58 to extend his lead in the overall competition.
In Magglingen, all eyes were on Ehammer and what he could do in the long jump pit. He equalled his indoor best with 7.80 and added 5cm to the distance he achieved when setting his national indoor record of 5915 a year earlier. Lino Wunderlin jumped 7.45 and Andri Oberholzer 7.34.
AFTER LONG JUMP
- MAGGLINGEN: 1. Simon 1961 2. Lino 1808 3. Andri 1729
- TALLINN: 1. Hans-Christian 1912 2. Risto 1774 3. Tim 1690
- BELGRADE: 1 Darko 1687
The fields in Tallinn, Magglingen and Belgrade included some of the world’s best multi-event shot putters and they didn’t disappoint. Darko improved his PB from 16.08 to a huge 16.69, and in Tallinn Vitaly Zhuk had a series of 16.43 (a PB), 16.51 (another PB) and 16.50. Risto could not match his 15.00 lifetime best set at the competition in 2020 but he threw a solid 14.14. Taavi Tšernjavski edged closer to 15m indoors (he’s thrown 15.13 outdoors) with an indoor best of 14.95.
Zhuk’s performance moved him into the lead in Tallinn, and Lillemets moved up into third behind Hausenberg. Only 60 points covered the first 3 athletes after 3 events.
But the big shock came in Magglingen. While Andri Oberholzer threw 14.75, within 7cm of his PB, Simon Ehammer had a huge improvement. In the second round he threw 14.77, which added 55cm to his previous best from earlier in the season. And then in the final round he threw another 54cm further, to 15.31. However, it wasn’t the longest throw of the day in Magglingen. More on that later.
- MAGGLINGEN: 1. Simon 2770 2. Andri 2503 3. Lino 2431
- TALLINN: 1. Vitaly 2567 2. Hans-Christian 2526 3. Risto 2511
- BELGRADE: 1. Darko 2581
In Tallinn the high jump went largely as expected, with no big surprises. Unfortunately, Taavi had to withdraw ahead of the event, due to a troublesome Achilles. Zhuk and Hausenberg cleared 2.01, Nowak 2.04 and Lillemets 2.07 with some good attempts at what would have been a lifetime best of 2.10.
In Magglingen, the high jump was also largely uneventful, save for the guest participation of Switzerland’s top female high jumper Salome Lang, who stayed with the decathletes until 1.87. Oberholzer jumped 1.99 and Ehammer 2.02.
But the drama came in Belgrade, as Darko set his second national record of the day by jumping 2.08. He also came pretty close to extending the record to 2.11.
At the end of Day 1, Ehammer sat on 3592 points – 21 points ahead of Kevin Mayer’s Day 1 score when he set the European record of 6479 at the European Indoors in Belgrade in 2017. And in Tallinn, only 1 point separated Zhuk and Lillemets, as they began to stretch away from Hausenberg and Nowak.
AFTER DAY 1
- MAGGLINGEN 1. Simon 3592 2. Andri 3297 3. Lino 3198
- TALLINN 1. Vitaly 3380 2. Risto 3379 3. Hans-Christian 3339 4. Tim 3294
- BELGRADE 1. Darko 3459
In Tallinn, Hausenberg got off to his customary fast start but Lillemets ran him down and they crossed the line in the same time of 8.14. Behind them Zhuk delivered another PB of 8.16. And so Lillemets turned his overnight 1 point deficit into a 4 point lead, with two events in which he was stronger than Zhuk to come. In Magglingen, Ehammer delivered yet another sub-8 second hurdles with 7.88, Oberholzer ran 8.30, and in Belgrade Pešić ran a brisk 8.12.
While not competing in the heptathlon, another multieventer was in action in the hurdles in Magglingen, as Finley Gaio attempted to secure the qualification time for the European Indoors. And he came close, just missing 7.88 it by 0.01s in his second run of the day in the individual event. He has another opportunity in two weeks’ time.
- MAGGLINGEN: 1. Simon 4604 2. Andri 4205 3. Lino 4123
- TALLINN: 1. Risto 4326 2. Vitaly 4322 3. Hans-Christian 4286
- BELGRADE: 1. Darko 4411
Aside from Taavi’s precautionary withdrawal to protect his Achilles, the competitions had thus far been relatively free from disasters. Enter the pole vault.
First, the positive. With little access to facilities growing up, Darko’s pole vault has never been his strong point, and a clearance of 4.60 was a good strong result for him. The best result was Andri Oberholzer, pushing himself to clear a joyous equal PB of 5.20.
In Tallinn Risto landed another 5m+ result with 5.01, Vitaly improved his lifetime best to 4.91, and Hans-Christian flew over 5.11. We would later discover that all was not well with Hausenberg.
But there were also disastrous vaults strewn across the continent. In Tallinn, Edgaras Benkunskas no-heighted at 4.11. Marcel Meyer no-heighted at 4.31. Tim Nowak no-heighted at 4.61. And in Magglingen, Simon Ehammer’s charge towards a massive score ended abruptly, as he failed to clear his opening height of 4.70. Many of the best decathletes in history have had the experience of a no-height in a critical competition and gone on to achieve great things in their next competition. Let’s see what Ehammer can do in his next competition in Frankfurt this coming weekend. However, for now, his challenge was over.
Back to Hausenberg, and he did not line up for the 1000m, hinting to Estonian press later at a number of negative issues in his set up. He also suggested that he would take a break from the multi-events – starting with the imminent 1000m that would have almost certainly delivered him a new heptathlon PB – and focus on long jump. Whatever lies ahead for the talented Hausenberg, we wish him well.
AFTER POLE VAULT
- MAGGLINGEN: 1. Andri 5177 2. Lino 4854 3. Matthias 4521
- TALLINN: 1. Risto 5239 2. Hans-Christian 5230 3. Vitaly 5205
- BELGRADE:1. Darko 5201
Going into the final event, all the remaining lead athletes had personal best heptathlon scores within their sights, requiring only to get around the 1000m safely. The challenge would be to run fast enough to exceed 6000 points; or to post a fast enough time to break national record marks.
And the field seized the challenge head-on. In Tallinn, despite scoring no points in the pole vault, both Nowak and Marcel Meyer took to the 1000m, and Nowak set a personal best of 2:38.13, as did Meyer in 2:41.52.
A few seconds behind the Germans, Lillemets and Zhuk also secured lifetime bests, Risto in 2:42.15 and Vitaly in 2:46.27. That took Lillemets to 6089, to win the competition, secure the World and European lead and become the 11th Estonian in history to exceed 6000 points.
“I’m feeling so freaking good,” said Risto, the new world leader, afterwards. “The Germans were excellent pacemakers. It felt like the right tempo, and so I stuck to them. I’m glad Tim stayed and ran. I’m so happy and so excited. Unbelievable.”
Zhuk scored 6010, improving his modest 5705 PB by 305 points, and slotting into the European lists between his countrymen Maksim Andraloits (6057) and Yuri Yaremich (5950) in the race for a mark for the European Indoors in Toruń.
In Belgrade, Darko ran from the front to a time of 2: 43.47 and a score of 6036, breaking his own national record set – also in Belgrade – at the 2017 Euro Indoors. He takes his place as third on the world and European lists behind Lillemets and Andraloits. The Serbian national title was won by Aleksandar Grnovic who finished third in the competition in 5120, and Darko’s former training partner Reinis Krēgers of Latvia finished second in the open competition in 5603.
But the bittersweet win came in Magglingen. After losing all of 2020 to a cruciate ligament injury, Andri Oberholzer scored 5940 points to smash his previous lifetime best by 215 points. And with Ehammer’s early exit, that score also became the new national record. Ehammer’s time will come, but for now, Andri Oberholzer is the Swiss record holder, a title thoroughly well-deserved in a brilliant comeback.
- MAGGLINGEN: 1. Andri 5940 NR 2. Lino 5408 3. Matthias 5287
- TALLINN: 1 Risto 6089 WL 2. Vitaly 6010 3. Tim 5086
- BELGRADE: 1 Darko 6036 NR
The pentathlons in both Magglingen and Tallinn were rapid and relatively straightforward affairs. In Magglingen, Annik Kälin led from start to finish, with a series of 8.14 (PB), 1.75 (PB), 13.14, 6.47 (PB) and 2:24.80, culminating in a national record of 4507. That beat Géraldine Ruckstuhl’s previous record of 4489 and Kälin is rapidly establishing herself as one of the future stars of heptathlon. Caroline Agnou had a good series to score 4259, but the highlight was her shot PB of 15.33 – 2cm further than Ehammer’s throw the previous day!
In Tallinn, Adrianna Sułek was faced with the daunting prospect of a competitor with a personal best some 300-400 points better than her own. But after a 60mh of 8.15, a 1.83 high jump, 12.35 shot and 6.04 long jump, Sułek was only 45 points behind Anastasia Mokhnyuk, who is eligible to compete again after her 4-year suspension ended in 2020. Sułek ran a brilliant 800m PB of 2:16.97 to overhaul the Ukrainian and take the win in a PB of 4442 points.
Annik’s score took her to 4th on the world lists (and 2nd on the European lists behind Noor Vidts’ score in Clermont Ferrand), and Adrianna sits 6th in the world, and 3rd European.