Sat. May 28th, 2022

It was nationals weekend in many countries across Europe on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th February. The action resulted in movement within the 2022 world lists, insights into the transition of U20 athletes into the senior age group, and some early signals for the WU20 Championships in Cali later this year.

HEPTATHLON (senior)

The world’s most famous Austrian decathlete Dominik Distelberger returned to the boards to win his 5th indoor title in Linz, scoring 5385.

Just 250km north in Prague, Jiří Sýkora broke 6000 points for the first time since his qualification for the European Indoors in 2019 with a score of 6020 to win the Czech champs. In doing so he equalled his 60m PB with 6.99, threw a PB of 15.46 in the shot, hurdled to a PB of 7.92 and pole vaulted a PB of 5.10.  Unfortunately, Roman Šebrle’s new charges Ondřej Kopecký and Marek Lukáš both withdrew after the hurdles on Day 2.

Likewise, at the Dutch championships Rik Taam and Sven Roosen both withdrew during the first day, and the title was won by Lauri Hulleman in 5358.

Meanwhile, in Magglingen, the victorious Swiss squad from X-Athletics a few weeks ago switched positions to take first, second and third at the Swiss champs. While Simon Ehammer focused on individual events, Andri Oberholzer retained his title and joined Ehammer as only the second Swiss man ever to exceed 6000 points. Oberholzer’s score of 6041 was an 80-point improvement on his previous lifetime best from Clermont Ferrand, and much of that came from a huge 50cm shot PB of 15.07. He improved indoor bests in the high jump (2.01), hurdles (8.13) and equalled his outdoor pole vault best (5.20). Behind him, Finley Gaio is edging closer and closer to 6000 points with each competition and improved his best from France by 50 points, scoring 5891 to finish second. Matthias Steinmann also scored a PB, of 5383, to take bronze.

In Gomel, Belarus, a little earlier in the week Yuri Yaremich won the national title in 5901 ahead of Vitaly Zhuk (5812) and Maksim Andraloits (5787). In 2021 the Belarussians made a strong bid for European Indoor qualification and Andraloits was the one who made it. Yaremich’s score is likely to be too low unless he improves in the next few weeks, and Zhuk’s performance in Tallinn just over a week ago suggests that the outdoor season might be where he comes into form.

Zhuk, Yaremich and Andraloits

Catching up with the previous weekend, when attention was focused on events in Tallinn, Nikolaj Grønbech won the Danish championships in 5389, from Christian Gundersen (5379) and Jonas Bjerremand (5205). In Sweden, ill-health continued to hamper Fredrik Samuelsson, and he missed the opportunity to win a 6th indoor title. Marcus Nilsson won in 5718.

After a flurry of big marks earlier in the season, the best score in the US college circuit this last week was from France’s Simon Rey (who impressed with his pole vault during the 2020 edition of X-Athletics competition), scoring 5437 in his new home at Queen’s University of Charlotte (coached by Dragan Pešić).

Four of the five medallists from the European and World U20 decathlon fields have also been competing indoors in 2022, for most their first season with the senior implements. European U20 bronze medallist Téo Bastien won the French championships in 5539, just over 50 points behind his new best in Clermont Ferrand in January. World U20 champion František Doubek took the silver medal behind Sýkora in Prague, with a PB of 5621. European U20 champion and World U20 silver medallist Jente Hauttekeete had the best score among the trio with 5680 to win the Belgian senior title, adding a 60m flat PB of 7.06 to the expected improvements in the hurdles. However, all three are some 300 points short of European U20 silver medallist Sander Skotheim’s debut a few weeks ago in Baerum where he scored 5965. However, Hauttekeete was well short of his best in the long jump and high jump so a number of points, independent of the transition to the senior event, are still to come for him.

HEPTATHLON (U20)

During the 2021 indoor season Hauttekeete and Skotheim set the 1st and 2nd best U20 heptathlon marks in history and remain the only two athletes to ever exceed 6000 points with the U20 implements. So, the next cohort of athletes have the best in history on hand to inspire them.

In the Netherlands, 18-year-old Gabriel Emmanuel won the heptathlon U20 title in 5686, including a fantastic 2.12 high jump. Sacha Rifflart, also 18, won the French U20 title in 5509, a little short of his score from Clermont Ferrand. Thomas Van De Poel won the Belgian championships in 5522, while Michal Jara and Petr Svoboda had a close fought match in Prague, scoring 5385 and 5357 respectively. Matthias Lasch won the Austrian U20 title in 5132, a year after setting his national U18 record.

Gabriel Emmanuel (Photo: Bjorn Paree)

However, in Australia, they’ve been putting decathlon marks down already in 2022, and Noah Oliver scored 7008, just short of the WU20 qualifying score of 7050. After missing out on the Winter Olympics, bob-sledder Alec Diamond won the senior event in 7575, to overtake compatriot Christian Paynter for the world lead so far in 2022.

PENTATHLON

The standout, and most surprising, pentathlon result of the weekend was that by Dorota Skřivanová to win the Czech championships. The surprise was not the fact that she won – she was already the best Czech athlete this year – but the scale of her score. With a sweep of PBs across all 5 events, she set a huge lifetime best of 4560 to move to 3rd on the 2022 world lists behind Adrianna Sułek and Holly Mills. Tereza Šínová also did very well behind her with 4397, and in the junior event Natalie Olivova won with 3945.

In Austria, there was also a little surprise as Sarah Lagger beat World heptathlon silver medallist Verena Mayr to win the national title. Lagger’s PB score of 4468 included PBs in the high jump and 800m. Mayr scored 4433 in second. World U20 heptathlon 4th placer Sophie Kreiner won the junior event in 3806 ahead of Anja Dlauhy.

Sarah Lagger (Photo: Austrian Athletics/Alfred Nevsimal)

In the Netherlands, the European U20 heptathlon silver medallist Sofie Dokter beat her older competitors to win the Dutch title in a PB of 4263, ahead of Marijke Esselink in second.

Sofie Dokter (Photo: Bjorn Paree)

In France, Louise Maraval won the senior event with 4052, while in Belgium Hanne Maudens competed in her first full combined event on her return from 400/800 to win with 4212. And in Switzerland, Sandra Röthlin won the Swiss title in a PB of 4174.

One result worth of mention from the previous weekend is the joyful return from injury of Lovisa Karlsson, who won the Swedish Championships in a big PB of 4244.

INDIVIDUAL EVENTS

Away from the combined events, several athletes were competing in individual events.

Simon Ehammer ran 7.81 in the heats of the 60mh in the Swiss champs, finishing 3rd in the final. He also finished 3rd in the pole vault (4.90m) and 5th in the shot (13.83). Ayden Owens of Puerto Rico, who has the No.2 heptathlon score in the world this year behind Ehammer, ran 7.81 for a lifetime hurdles best. Abdel Larrinaga of Portugal, in super form this season over 7 events, improved his hurdles lifetime best to 7.72, the qualifying time for the World Indoors. And Britain’s Tim Duckworth, denied an Olympic spot by a combination of wind, bureaucracy, flawed rankings weightings and reduced field sizes, returned after a small injury to jump 7.61m in the long jump at the Husky Classic in Seattle.

Baptiste Thiery of France has competed in 4 pole vault competitions so far this year. His results in each have been superb – 5.57, 5.50, 5.64 and this weekend 5.50 to take the French U23 title.

STANDINGS

So, as of 14 February, the top 10 marks of the year are as follows:

  1. Ehammer 6285
  2. Owens 6272 (NCAA)
  3. Garland 6163 (NCAA)
  4. Hausenberg 6143
  5. Makarenko 6115
  6. Oberholzer 6041
  7. Meyer 6024
  8. Neugebauer 6021 (NCAA)
  9. Sýkora 6020
  10. Lillemets 6006

And

  1. Sułek 4598
  2. Mills 4597
  3. Skřivanová 4560
  4. Vicente 4495
  5. Loban 4482
  6. Huntington 4476
  7. Lagger 4468
  8. Cambours 4457
  9. Gerevini 4434
  10. Mayr 4433

Six places are available for the World Indoors in Belgrade from the 2021-22 indoor lists: the 5 top marks (for those athletes who want to compete) and one discretionary place. The restricted field size of 12 only allows for 2 athletes per country, and it’s unlikely that the NCAA athletes will all take their places (although Karel Tilga, qualified by way of his 2021 decathlon score, has indicated he intends to participate). Artem Makarenko’s ANA status has been confirmed, and he has a good chance of being within the maximum quota of ANA athletes permitted to compete across all the major championships in 2022.

However, let’s see how these scores translate into rankings positions, which will be relevant for the outdoor season and qualification for the World and European championships. Experience from the last few years has shown that generous bonus points collected at National championships can mean that the rankings look very different from the world lists.

You can see the full results from this weekend’s action at the links below: