Sat. May 28th, 2022

In the small hours of Friday night (for European readers) the mighty US Championships decathlon and heptathlon got underway in Fayetteville.

As the sun started to set on Sunday evening (or Sunday morning for US readers) the 25th Mehrkampf meeting in Ratingen concluded.

The weekend of thirty-four events delivered five World Championships qualifying standards, a decathlon world best, a new entry among the decathlon all-time greats, and the most points any elite decathlete has ever scored in history in a single event.

As the challenge of the headline German men and American women faded away, new names arrived on the World Athletics Combined Events tour podium, and selections for the World and European Championships later this summer were secured.

HEPTATHLON

100M HURDLES

In Fayetteville, Anna Hall started as clear favourite. But with a season’s best just a few points short of the Oregon qualifying score, and a rankings system stacked against combined events college athletes, Hall would need an automatic qualifying score of 6420 to be sure of being eligible for selection for the World Championships in Oregon.

She got off to a great start, taking two tenths of her hurdles lifetime best in 13.21s. Michelle Atherley (12.96s) and Chari Hawkins (13.12s PB) were fastest overall, followed by Kendell Williams (13.14s) and Taliyah Brooks (13.15s).

Kendell Williams was already eligible for selection in three different ways: by automatic qualifying score, by rankings position and as winner of the 2021 WA Combined Events challenge, this last route providing USA with the opportunity to bring four qualified athletes. So, the World Indoor bronze medallist needed only to do what was required to fulfil USATF selection criteria. Similarly, Erica Bougard has the automatic qualifying standard and a high rankings placing, and so her goal was participation rather than competition.

In Ratingen, home favourite Carolin Schäfer was fastest in 13.57s, followed by France’s Léonie Cambours in a PB of 13.58s, one of only five international heptathletes in the line-up. Sophie Weissenberg had a promising start to the two days with the third fastest run of the day in 13.78s, while further down the field the US’s Shaina Burns started the second leg of her Grand European Tour – she also competed at Multistars last week– in 14.05s.

After one event, in Ratingen and Fayetteville:

  1. Carolin Schäfer 1040                     1. Michelle Atherley 1130
  2. Léonie Cambours 1039                 2. Chari Hawkins 1106
  3. Sophie Weissenberg 1010           3. Kendell Williams 1103
  4. Lovisa Karlsson 976                       4. Taliyah Brooks 1102
  5. Shaina Burns 971                           5. Anna Hall 1093

HIGH JUMP

Neither the high jump competition in Fayetteville nor Ratingen were the highlight of the weekend, and Léonie Cambours was the only athlete across the continents to reach 1.80m. Sophie Weissenberg had a solid best jump of 1.77m, followed by Mareike Roesing in 1.74s. Schäfer’s best of the day was 1.71m

On the other side of the Atlantic, Ashtin Zamzow-Mahler and Chari Hawkins were the highest jumpers with 1.79m, and Anna Hall, Kendell Williams and Sarah Glidden all cleared 1.76m, well below Hall’s and Williams’ bests. Bougard entered low at 1.49m and did not clear her attempts, thereby focusing simply on completing the two days.

However, there was a change in leader in both competitions, as Cambours and Weissenberg moved ahead of Schäfer, and Hawkins, Williams and Hall moved up.

After two events:

  1. Léonie Cambours 2017                 1. Chari Hawkins 2072
  2. Sophie Weissenberg 1951           2. Kendell Williams 2031
  3. Carolin Schäfer 1907                     3. Anna Hall 2021
  4. Shaina Burns 1838                        4. Ashtin Zamzow-Mahler 2015
  5. Mareike Rösing 1815                    5. Taliyah Brooks 1993

SHOT

An American had the longest put of the competition, but it wasn’t on American soil. Shaina Burns extended her outdoor lifetime best to 14.70m in Ratingen. While that kept her in fourth place, it put some daylight between her and Anna Maiwald in fifth, who had the third longest throw (13.81m). Carolin Schäfer threw 13.98m and Sophie Weissenberg 13.59m.

At the US trials, Chari Hawkins was the best thrower with 13.91m, ahead of Taliyah Brooks and Ashtin Zamzow-Mahler’s 13.10m and Michelle Atherley’s 12.97m. Kendell Williams threw 12.82m and Anna Hall 12.51m.

Hawkins retained the lead after the third event, but after two strong events Zamzow-Mahler had moved up into second.

After three events:

  1. Sophie Weissenberg 2718           1. Chari Hawkins 2860
  2. Carolin Schäfer 2700                    2. Ashtin Zamzow-Mahler 2749
  3. Léonie Cambours 2681                3. Kendell Williams 2746
  4. Shaina Burns 2679                       4. Taliyah Brooks 2727
  5. Anna Maiwald 2552                     5. Anna Hall 2716

200M

Sitting in fifth place, with one of her best events already done, it seemed that Hall wasn’t yet setting the competition on fire. That was about to change. In a sensational 200m, Hall ran 23.14s to improve her previous best – 23.81s from the Texas Relays in March – by two thirds of a second. That catapulted her to the top of the standings, ahead of Hawkins (who ran 24.97s) and Michelle Atherley, whose run of 23.80s was the second fastest overall and pulled her up three places.

In Ratingen, the times were a little slower, but Sophie Weissenberg had an impressive run around the bend in 24.03s and was almost four tenths faster than anyone else in the field. Schäfer was second in 24.40s, Cambours third in 24.44s and Hanne Maudens – in her first heptathlon after her time out to focus on the 400m – 24.71s.

The sweetest celebration of all, however, was for Anna-Lena Obermaier. After a lifetime best in the hurdles earlier in the day, she was absolutely delighted to improve – after eight years – her 200m time from 25.76s to 25.42s.

After four events:

  1. Sophie Weissenberg 3696           1. Anna Hall 3781
  2. Carolin Schäfer 3643                     2. Chari Hawkins 3750
  3. Léonie Cambours 3620                 3. Michelle Atherley 3673
  4. Shaina Burns 3521                        4. Taliyah Brooks 3662
  5. Anna Maiwald 3431                      5. Kendell Williams 3659

LONG JUMP

As Day 2 began, both overnight leaders began to get into their stride. Anna Hall jumped the furthest in Fayetteville (6.39m) while only the fast-improving Lovisa Karlsson of Sweden (6.27 PB) jumped further than Sophie Weissenberg (6.21m) in Ratingen. Maudens wasn’t yet back at her impressive 6.50m+ long jump best (6.09m) and Cambours too was well below her 6.40m+ form (5.97m).

Kendell Williams did not start the event, and Hope Bender withdrew after one jump. Taliyah Brooks had three fouls, so without either the qualifying score or a rankings position at present, she will need another mark over the coming weeks if she wants to be eligible for selection. Michelle Atherley was the only other athlete to jump beyond 6m, and that took her to within two points of Chari Hawkins, whose best events were now behind her. Ashtin Zamzow-Mahler – the best javelin thrower among the US heptathletes – was also appearing ominously in Hawkins’ rear-view mirror.

After five events:

  1. Sophie Weissenberg 4611           1. Anna Hall 4753
  2. Léonie Cambours 4460                 2. Chari Hawkins 4590
  3. Carolin Schäfer 4444                     3. Michelle Atherley 4588
  4. Shaina Burns 4331                         4. Ashtin Zamzow-Mahler 4468
  5. Lovisa Karlsson 4249                     5. Melanie Winters 4256

JAVELIN

Ashtin Zamzow-Mahler didn’t disappoint, and she threw 48.63m in the first round, 47.44m in the second and finally 50.07m in the third round. All three of her throws were better than anyone else in the field and that moved her past both Atherley (37.38m) and Hawkins (36.73m). Anna Hall threw 38.44m, which reduced her lead to only 61 points. But that doesn’t matter when you have a killer 800m in your arsenal.

In Ratingen, Weissenberg and Schäfer continued their sparring match. Weissenberg threw 48m and Schäfer 47.81m, while Cambours dropped in the standings, albeit with a PB of 35.05m. Schäfer moved ahead of Cambours but was still almost 200 points behind Weissenberg. For comparison, Schäfer was also behind Zamzow-Mahler in the US, while Weissenberg was ahead of Hall.

After six events:

  1. Sophie Weissenberg 5432           1. Anna Hall 5390
  2. Carolin Schäfer 5262                     2. Ashtin Zamzow-Mahler 5329
  3. Léonie Cambours 5033                 3. Michelle Atherley 5205
  4. Shaina Burns 4921                         4. Chari Hawkins 5195   
  5. Lovisa Karlsson 4906                     5. Alissa Brooks-Johnson 4897

800m

As Anna Hall went into the final event, she was still 1030 points short of the automatic qualifying mark for Oregon. She needed to run 2:05.63s or faster to be sure that she was in control of her qualification, and not dependent on the position of others in the world rankings.

Hall had run 2:04.61s in the Texas Relays. Surely, she couldn’t go faster than that? As the splits came through for the first 400m, Hall was clocked at 57.75s. She couldn’t maintain that pace for another lap – would she blow up and fall short?

She ran 2:03.11, one of the fastest heptathlon 800m bests of all time, and that gave Anna 6458 points and the championship title – the two things she needed to secure her first place on a national US team.

Michelle Atherley was next fastest (2:11.05) which placed her third overall with 6154 points, and Ashtin Zamzow-Mahler ran 2:17.71s to finish second overall with 6184 points.

As of 11 May, Zamzow-Mahler and Atherley are positioned 28th and 27th in the world rankings respectively and 29th and 28th in the Road to Oregon tool, which combines all the factors relevant for qualification. However, the tool does not – and of course cannot – take into account the circumstances of individual athletes currently qualified: Annie Kunz is injured (and won’t take one of the available four US places), Georgia Ellenwood of Canada is injured, and Holly Mills of Great Britain has said that she will not seek a place in Oregon. With more developments inevitable, and time to log another mark, Zamzow-Mahler’s and Atherley’s bid to compete in the World Championships is not yet over.

Photo: USATF

In Ratingen, Carolin Schäfer’s time with the Kaul family training squad paid off as she saved her best for the final event of the day, running a PB of 2:13.95 to finish first in the 800m. Five women behind her also delivered PBs: Anna-Lena Obermaier (2:14.37s), Léonie Cambours (1:14.51s), Katarina Kemp (2:16.01s), Paula de Boer (2:17.51s) and Lovisa Karlsson (2:23.68s).

But there was no catching Weissenberg. The 2019 European U23 silver medallist ran 2:18.72s for an emotional win on home soil, scoring 6273 points – her best since her breakthrough heptathlon of 6293 in Götzis in 2019, and a qualifying score for the European Championships in Munich.

““It’s so amazing to be back here,” she told Decathletes of Europe. “Last year wasn’t the easiest year, missing the Olympics. I have no injuries, no pain and that’s probably the biggest win for me.”

“My next destination will be Götzis, so looking forward to competing there and maybe I can get the World Championships standard there.”

And at the end of her Grosseto-Ratingen road trip, Shaina Burns explained what she had taken from the experience, and how it differed from meets in the US:

“My goal this year in heptathlon was finding the love for the sport again. I had a really hard year mentally and personally last year – I was really stressed out all the time and it wasn’t fun anymore. So, this year, I got invited to Multistars, I got invited out here to Germany and I was like – you know what? I’m going to have fun. And that’s what this has been. The most amazing crowd, the most amazing atmosphere, and I’m really happy to say that track is fun again – I accomplished that. I needed the experience to come first, and the points will come second”

“There’s a lot of little differences. For example, in the US we go really fast between events, it’s usually 30 minutes and go. And here, I was taking naps, I was eating pasta, it’s much different that way. And I liked it, it was really cool to do the same event but with a completely different experience.”

Final results:

  1. Sophie Weissenberg 6273                          1. Anna Hall 6458
  2. Carolin Schäfer 6170                                   2. Ashtin Zamzow-Mahler 6184
  3. Léonie Cambours 5933                               3. Michelle Atherley 6154
  4. Anna-Lena Obermaier 5745 PB                 4. Chari Hawkins 6031
  5. Shaina Burns 5716                                       5. Alissa Brooks-Johnson 5736

 DECATHLON

100M

In Fayetteville, the bronze medallist from the 2021 Olympic trials Zach Ziemek – and it always seems to get overlooked that he finished 6th in the Olympics – was one hundredth outside his lifetime best as he ran the fastest 100m in 10.56s. Next was the NCAA indoor silver medallist Kyle Garland, who took a chunk off his PB (10.79s) to run 10.63s. The 2021 US champion Garrett Scantling ran 10.68s, and both Steven Bastien and Devon Williams ran 10.76s – encouraging for Williams after such a challenging few years. Jack Flood came achingly close to his first time beginning with a ten, logging 11 seconds dead.

If you’re a fan of German decathlon then you certainly know who Nico Beckers is but given the host of World and European medallists on the start list, you would be forgiven for not including him in the pre-event narrative (guilty!)

Beckers and Nils Laserich ran fastest in the first heat of the 100m, with PBs of 10.83s and 10.91s respectively. Only three men would run under 11 seconds – but then you don’t come to Germany for the sprints.

In the second heat, Switzerland’s Simon Ehammer was – of course – the fastest in 10.65s. Marcel Meyer had a good run in second with 11.01s. That was a small PB in Meyer’s first senior decathlon – although he is 21, he had lost the transition year from U20 to senior due to injury.

The world champion Niklas Kaul, who had a foot injury earlier in the year, typically brings up the rear of the field in the first event, but with 11.42s he was a long way behind the cluster of athletes – Andreas Bechmann, Kai Kazmirek and Malik Diakité – who ran 11.12/11.13. Tim Nowak ran 11.34s, but despite the time being a little off his best, he looked the best of the big Germans.

Matthias Brugger’s decathlon was over before he really began, as he limped over the line with an injury to his right hamstring.

After one event:

  1. Simon Ehammer 940                    1. Zach Ziemek 961
  2. Nico Beckers 899                           2. Kyle Garland 945
  3. Nils Laserich 881                            3. Garrett Scantling 933
  4. Marcel Meyer 858                         4. Devon Williams 915
  5. Téo Bastien 850                             5. Steven Bastien 915

LONG JUMP

There were some big jumpers in the Fayetteville long jump field. Double Z and Devon Williams both have lifetime bests over 7.70m. Garland, Scantling and Bastien, meanwhile, all came into the competitions with bests between 7.50m and 7.70m.

Garland’s first round jump was a windy 7.56m, followed by Bastien 7.43m, Williams 7.47m, Ziemek 7.55m and Scantling 7.24w. In the second round Ziemek improved to 7.62m, Bastien 7.67w and Scantling a small PB of 7.68cm. But Garland pulled out a huge jump of 7.86m, a lifetime best by 17cm. Williams then improved in round three to 7.73m

There were some big jumpers in the Ratingen long jump field too. Kazmirek and Bechmann have both been over 7.70m, and of course Simon Ehammer spends much of his time looking over his shoulder at the 8m line.

The competition was a slow burn. The best jump in the first round was Malik Diakité (7.35m PB) until Ehammer, who was last to jump. Even Ehammer’s first attempt was modest, 7.69m.

Onto the second round, and Marcel Meyer stepped up his game to approach his best of 7.15m, with 7.12m. So did Nils Laserich, improving from his first round of 7.28m to 7.34m. Niklas Kaul had his best jump in the second round, 7.03m. Then back to Ehammer. The Swiss added almost 30cm to his first round, just short of 8m with 7.97m.

In the final round, Andreas Bechmann couldn’t improve on his first-round best of 7.29m, although that was enough to move him up into the top five, and Nils Laserich had a very big jump, which proved to be a foul.

Back to Ehammer. In the last jump of the competition he added another 30cm to his best, jumping 8.30m for the longest jump ever in a decathlon, surpassing his own best of 8.26m and breaking Damian Warner’s world decathlon best of 8.28m. He also scored more points – 1138 – than any decathlete has ever scored in any event in an 8000+ decathlon.

After two events:

  1. Simon Ehammer 2078                  1. Kyle Garland 1970
  2. Nils Laserich 1777                          2. Zach Ziemek 1926
  3. Nico Beckers 1737                         3. Garrett Scantling 1913
  4. Malik Diakité 1730                        4. Devon Williams 1907
  5. Andreas Bechmann 1717             5. Steven Bastien 1892

SHOT

Among the big names, Garland and Scantling were the 16m throwers and they both delivered 16m; Garland furthest with 16.44m and Scantling 16.12m. Double Z had a solid 14.97m, followed by Dylan Cooper (14.19m) and Devon Williams (13.93m). Garland extended his lead further.

In Ratingen, Nico Beckers made it an expensive day for the meeting Director, as he threw 16.63m – an 80cm PB – for the second meeting record in a row, after Ehammer’s jump. Laserich equalled his PB with 14.55m and Meyer improved on his debut indoor performance with the senior shot with 14.86m.

Tim Nowak had the second longest throw behind Beckers with 15.17m, 1cm short of his PB, and again had the most positive energy of the big German names. Bechmann threw 14.22m, Kazmirek 13.78m and Kaul 13.73m. Notwithstanding that we would expect Ehammer to be streaking ahead of Kaul at this point in competition, the world champion seemed to be struggling, his body language signalling frustration. Ehammer threw 14.68m, an outdoor PB but well short of his 15m+ indoor best.

After three events, Ehammer and Garland, both graduates of the 2018 World U20 championships in Tampere, were on identical points, albeit achieved in different ways.

After three events:

  1. Simon Ehammer 2848                  1. Kyle Garland 2848
  2. Nico Beckers 2627                         2. Garrett Scantling 2772
  3. Nils Laserich 2539                          3. Zach Ziemek 2714
  4. Marcel Meyer 2481                       4. Devon Williams 2631
  5. Andreas Bechmann 2459             5. Steven Bastien 2596  

HIGH JUMP

In Ratingen, after a slightly subdued shot competition, the energy levels lifted again in the high jump, as Tim Nowak, Téo Bastien, Simon Ehammer and Nico Beckers took the competition to 2m and beyond.

In Group A, Nowak and Ehammer cleared height after height, each one more delighted than the last, resulting in Nowak clearing 2.07m (2cm off his best) and Ehammer 2.04m (1cm from his). In Group B, the European U20 bronze medallist Téo Bastien and Nico Beckers led the field, Bastien equalling his lifetime best of 2.07 – the same as Nowak – and Beckers 2.01m.

Andreas Bechmann did not start the event, and both Kaul and Kazmirek continued to struggle.

In Fayetteville, we were about to see something special.

One might call Kyle Garland the speed guy, given his – now 10.6s – moves in the sprints.

We might call Garland the throws guy, after his 16m put.

We might also call him the jumps guy, following a 7.80m+ horizontal leap.

But it is his high jump that is remarkable, and Garland had a clear set of jumps all the way from his first height at 1.95m through to his clearance at 2.13m. His first failure only came at 2.16m (his PB is 2.18m), and he cleared it at the second attempt.

It’s the second time in two weeks that a decathlete has jumped 2.16m – Sander Skotheim did the same in Grosseto – but Garland is a very different decathlete from Skotheim.

It is only in the pole vault where Garland falls a little behind his competitors, but for now Kyle was stacking up the points to provide a buffer for when that moment came. Ziemek cleared 2.10m, Hunter Price 2.07m, Scantling and Jack Flood 2.04m and Steven Bastien 2.01m. Williams’ best was only 1.89m.

After four events, Garland began to move ahead, while Scantling kept pace with Ehammer.

After four events

  1. Simon Ehammer 3688                  1. Kyle Garland 3801
  2. Nico Beckers 3440                         2. Garrett Scantling 3612
  3. Tim Nowak 3289                            3. Zach Ziemek 3610
  4. Téo Bastien 3225                           4. Steven Bastien 3409
  5. Nils Laserich 3192                          5. Hunter Price 3383

400M

One thing Ratingen always knows how to deliver is a super 400m.

In 2019 Kai Kazmirek broke Erki Nool’s meeting record with a run of 46.81s. In 2022 Malik Diakité ran a surprise one and a half second PB to break Kazmirek’s record with 46.76s.

Marcel Meyer similarly set a huge lifetime best of 47.67s, previously 48.64s and Nico Beckers continued his improvement with a PB of 48.60s, just behind Ehammer in 48.30s.

Nowak and Téo Bastien both ran over 50s – Nowak can go much faster – and so there was a significant switch in placings. Beckers moved back up to second, and Meyer and Diakité moved into second and fourth respectively.

Kaul and Kazmirek both started, then pulled up, ending their chance of a decathlon score while keeping the window open to participate in further events the next day if they so wished. But they didn’t – and that was the end for Germany’s world medallists.

With no Kaul to challenge Ehammer, Day 1 ended with the Swiss stretching out into the lead by over 250 points. Among those who remained, only Nowak was realistically capable of challenging him, but that was unlikely with Tim losing valuable points in the long jump and 400m.

In Fayetteville, they couldn’t quite match the speed of Diakité, but Steven Bastien got closest with a PB of 47.44m. Scantling (48.38s), Williams (48.57s), Joe Delgado (48.88s) and Hunter Price (48.96s) all ran under 49 seconds, and Garland was just on the other side of it with 49.04s. The placings remained the same after the 400m, albeit that Scantling had recouped some of the points he had lost to Garland during the high jump.

Garland’s Day 1 score was 4660. That is the 20th best Day 1 score of all time, and it puts him between Ashton Eaton (4661 en route to 8869) and Tomas Dvorak (4645 en route to 8994).

After Day 1:

  1. Simon Ehammer 4583                  1. Kyle Garland 4660
  2. Nico Beckers 4320                         2. Garrett Scantling 4503            
  3. Marcel Meyer 4111                       3. Zach Ziemek 4404
  4. Tim Nowak 4102                            4. Steven Bastien 4345
  5. Malik Diakité 4080                        5. Hunter Price 4246

110MH

Day two and, in Fayetteville, Garrett Scantling stepped up his game, bringing a quarter of a second improvement in his hurdles, running 13.59s. In recent years, only Damian Warner and Kevin Mayer have run faster in a top-class decathlon.

Not to be outdone, Garland also raced to 13.72s, his third personal best of the competition so far. Jack Flood had a good run in 13.86s, Devon Williams was under 14s again with 13.92s, while Steven Bastien and Zach Ziemek were further back the field in 14.49s and 14.71s respectively. While only 100 points had separated Scantling and Ziemek at the end of day one, Garland and Scantling began to pull away from the rest of the field, as Ziemek, Bastien and Williams clustered between 5200 and 5300 points.

In Ratingen, nothing much changed after the hurdles. Ehammer blasted to his characteristic sub-14 second time, this time 13.75s. Nico Beckers set his fourth PB in 6 events (slicing one hundredth off his previous best to run 14.61s) and Meyer (14.62s), Nowak (14.76s) and Diakité (15.06s) followed behind, leaving positions unchanged.

Comparing points across the Atlantic, Nico Beckers was only a few points behind Olympians Steven Bastien and Zach Ziemek after six events – what an achievement for the 28-year-old.

Ehammer was ahead of Scantling after six events and stretched another 100 points clear of the field in Ratingen, but that would be tempered in the next event; his weakest, the discus.

After six events:

  1. Simon Ehammer 5590                  1. Kyle Garland 5672
  2. Nico Beckers 5217                         2. Garrett Scantling 5531
  3. Marcel Meyer 5007                       3. Zach Ziemek 5289
  4. Tim Nowak 4981                            4. Steven Bastien 5257
  5. Malik Diakité 4922                        5. Devon Williams 5203

DISCUS

Marcus Nilsson is a strong Day 2 guy and, come the discus, the Swede started to make his mark. He set his decathlon lifetime best in Ratingen four years ago, and he had the longest throw in the competition, 46.88m, elevating him from tenth to eighth place.

Tim Nowak also finally started to get into his flow and – after a 32m first round effort and a foul – threw 44.62m, less than a metre short of his lifetime best.

The only 50m thrower in the field, Jan Ruhrmann, threw 43.42m and – you guessed it – Nico Beckers improved his lifetime best. The x-year-old came into the competition with a best of 41.51m and he improved that twice, to 41.55m and 42.38m in the second and third rounds respectively.

Before this weekend, the last decathlon in which Ehammer progressed as far as the discus was August 2020. Then, he was a 20-year-old in his first year out of the U20 category. Focusing on long jump in 2021, he has not yet reached 40m. However, he is getting closer to that mark, and added almost 3m to his previous best, throwing 39.13m in the second round.

After seven events, Ehammer’s lead contracted ever so slightly – now just the 250 points! – but significantly Tim Nowak overtook Marcel Meyer and started making moves on Nico Beckers. The next event would be one of Nowak’s best, and by far Beckers’ weakest.

However, the 50m mark got much more of a pummelling in Fayetteville. Zach Ziemek had been over 50m previously – his best was 50.90m –but he improved that to 51.64m. Garrett Scantling enjoyed his first 50m+ throw (51.04m) and Devon Williams was next in 48.22m. Dylan Cooper (46.46m), Joe Delgado (45.65m) and Jackson Walker (42.60m) all threw lifetime bests, and Kyle Garland was tucked in among the trio, his best of the day 46.16m.

Scantling’s charge continued, and he was now only 40 points behind Garland – and now well ahead of Ehammer in Ratingen – with three strong events to come.

After seven events:

  1. Simon Ehammer 6237                  1. Kyle Garland 6463
  2. Nico Beckers 5930                         2. Garrett Scantling 6423
  3. Tim Nowak 5740                            3. Zach Ziemek 6194
  4. Marcel Meyer 5704                       4. Devon Williams 6036
  5. Malik Diakité 5590                        5. Steven Bastien 5869

POLE VAULT

Ehammer’s pole vault was his Achilles’ heel in 2021, but those days are now behind him, and he entered the competition safely at 4.60m. However, the dreaded no-height would on this occasion befall poor Marcel Meyer, at his opening height of 4.50m, who was otherwise on course for a strong first senior decathlon score.

Beckers’ lifetime best was 4.22, and a good clearance at 4.20m suggested much more was on the way. More was on the way, but it was only 10cm and Beckers topped out at 4.30m – but clearly more to come from him in the vault this year. Téo Bastien had an uncharacteristically poor event – he’s used to being up at 4.60m and 4.70m – but could only manage 4.30m on this occasion. Instead, it was Malik Diakité’s chance to shine. He cleared an equal personal best of 4.60m, and then went onto achieve 4.70m and 4.80m.

Meanwhile, Tim Nowak and Simon Ehammer revived their lively duel from the high jump the day before, the pair practically vibrating with energy. With Marcus Nilsson, all three had lifetime bests of 5.10, and they matched each other height for height, all the way from 4.60m to 5m. Nowak retired after clearing 5m, and neither Nilsson nor Ehammer made it over 5.10m.

The gap between Ehammer and Nowak remained the same at just under 500 points, but Nowak moved ahead of Beckers, and Diakité also drastically reduced the gap to Beckers.

In Fayetteville, Devon Williams and Josh Cogdill joined Marcel Meyer in sympathy with a no-height, while Joe Delgado and Mat Clark each logged one failure and retired. Among the leaders the discipline was largely uneventful, save for Double Z only clearing 5.15m – the same as Scantling – when he is capable of much, much more. Steven Bastien equalled his 4.95 PB, and Garland cleared 4.85m. As expected, Scantling finally overtook Garland, but both men were clearly on for enormous scores. Ehammer remained on a par with Ziemek, some 200 points behind.

After eight events:

  1. Simon Ehammer 7147                  1. Garrett Scantling 7380
  2. Tim Nowak 6650                            2. Kyle Garland 7328
  3. Nico Beckers 6632                         3. Zach Ziemek 7151
  4. Malik Diakité 6439                        4. Steven Bastien 6764
  5. Marcus Nilsson 6333                     5. Hunter Price 6534

JAVELIN

With no Niklas Kaul on Day 2, there was no need to ensure that the 80m line was prepped and ready for attack. But the absence of the world champion didn’t detract from an animated javelin competition. Four 60m+ throwers were in the field, Diakité with the longest PB of 66m+, Nilsson 65m+ at his best, Nowak 64m and Jan Ruhrmann 63m. And the ninth event was when Jan Ruhrmann had his moment.

In the first round, Nico Beckers registered another lifetime best, 51.27m, which he extended to 53.04m in the second round. Luca Dieckmann also threw further than ever before in the second round (49.43m), as did Téo Bastien (52.65m). Ehammer had a consistent series between 50m and 53m, Diakité topped out at 56.49m, Nowak at 57.95m and Nilsson 62.98m.

But Ruhrmann was the star, and both his second and third round throws were longer than anyone else in the competition – 63.95m and 66.75m respectively, both lifetime bests.

In Fayetteville, the longest thrower was Garrett Scantling, just 2m off his best with 67.16m. Dylan Cooper was next with 61.32m, while Ziemek was centimetres from his lifetime best with 60.10m. Garland got ever closer to 60m, with a throw of 59.63m in the final round.

After nine events, Garrett Scantling was on 8226 points. That was only 5 points behind Ehammer’s decathlon best over ten events. Scantling was clearly on for one of the highest scores in history. Likewise, Garland was also already over 8000 points. In comparison Ziemek’s 7890, setting up him up for an 8500+ score, looked positively…well, ordinary.

After nine events:

  1. Simon Ehammer 7780                  1. Garrett Scantling 8226
  2. Tim Nowak 7357                            2. Kyle Garland 8060
  3. Nico Beckers 7266                         3. Zach Ziemek 7890
  4. Malik Diakité 7124                        4. Steven Bastien 7395
  5. Marcus Nilsson 7116                     5. Hunter Price 7217

1500M

Time to talk records and qualifying marks.

In Ratingen, Ehammer only needed to jog round in 5:19 to improve his PB and with the Swiss record of Beat Gäwhiler only 13 points beyond that, it was clear that the national record would go.

However, there is a mark higher on the Swiss all-time list. In 1983, Stephan Niklaus scored 8337, converted to 8334 when the points table was revised in 1984. That mark was much nearer the World Championships qualifying mark of 8350, and while Ehammer has confirmed that he only intends to do the long jump in Oregon, there’s another World Championships in 2023. For Niklaus’ mark, Ehammer would need 5:01. Ehammer’s PB is 4:42, but he has been known to fade badly in the final event.

As expected, Tim Nowak and Marcus Nilsson hared off into the front, and into the distance. They pushed each other all the way, and while Nilsson finished first in 4:20.02, Nowak did what he needed to do to secure the European championships qualifying mark of 8100. Tim ran 4:21.31 to score 8160, clawing his way back from tenth after the first event on Saturday, to second place overall. In previous years, the German federation has also required its qualified decathletes to exceed 8100 at either Ratingen or Götzis to prove form ahead of the year’s global championships, so if Nowak finds himself qualified for Oregon via the world rankings later in the summer, he has likely done enough to convince the Federation of his ability to perform.

Nilsson’s race moved him up to fourth place (7927) ahead of Diakité (7856), who ran 4:31.99. Beckers ran 4:41.03 to smash his decathlon lifetime best by almost 400 points, and finish third with 7940. One more height in the high jump and 20cm more in the long jump – both of which he has achieved previously – and he would have broken 8000 points.

And as for Ehammer, he made it round in 4:57.55 to score 8354 points: a PB, a national record, the highest score ever recorded by a Swiss man, a world championships qualifying score, and a world decathlon best in the long jump.

After the event Ehammer told Decathletes of Europe: “Amazing, it was unbelievable. It was a long time without decathlon, my last one was in August 2020, so I was really hyped and happy to start again, but also – it was so tough. I did one year without decathlon and it’s painful for the first one, so I’m really happy with it. Next is Götzis, so this one was “only” the preparation – and I hope I can put some more points on top. “

Steven Bastien and Dylan Cooper were the Nowak and Nilsson of the Fayetteville 1500m, albeit some ten seconds slower, Bastien in 4:30.75 and Cooper a PB of 4:31.71. Of the leading athletes, Ziemek was the first to finish in 4:39.60, taking him to a lifetime best of 8573 in third place. Three places back, Garland was next to finish, in a PB of 4:43.21. That resulted in an astonishing score of 8720, adding x to his y.

And then, the champion. Scantling finished with a 1500m of 4:46.37s, delivering him 8867 points, seventh athlete on the world all-time list behind Kevin Mayer, Ashton Eaton, Roman Šebrle, Damian Warner, Tomas Dvorak and Dan O’Brien. Not bad for a guy who only returned to decathlon three years ago.

Since the US Championships also acted as selection for the World Championships, and all three podium finishers have achieved the automatic qualifying mark of 8350 points, Scantling, Garland and Ziemek will all be going to Oregon. The top athletes behind the big three can also look forward to representing the USA at this year’s Thorpe Cup.

Photo: USATF

Final results:

  1. Simon Ehammer 8354                  1. Garrett Scantling 8867
  2. Tim Nowak 8160                            2. Kyle Garland 8720
  3. Nico Beckers 7940                         3. Zach Ziemek 8573
  4. Marcus Nilsson 7927                     4. Steven Bastien 8135
  5. Malik Diakité 7856                        5. Hunter Price 7897

The full results for Ratingen can be found here, and for the US champs here.