Every month, I’ll share a digest of ten decathlon-related facts, figures and features. Here’s my pick of the best of January – read it quickly because it looks like February is going to be even more fun…
1 2019 started the way 2018 ended with Kevin resplendent and expressing himself 100%. Kevin kicks off the Decathletes of Europe Calendar and got us in the mood to deal with January.
2 A blistering world lead of 6124 in Cardiff came from Jorge Ureña, consolidating his pre-Christmas Valencia mark of 5979. There are 5 slots available for the European Indoors in Glasgow and we haven’t seen too much from the 7 qualifiers (other than a good long jump of 7.67 from Ilya Shkurenyov on 20 January). Jorge has pretty much ruled the world lists in January.
3 As Ashton has decreed, the next step after becoming a world record holder is the obligatory feature with Vogue. Embracing his role as the Pippa Middleton of decathlon, Kevin shares his five tips to improve yourself every day. If you haven’t mastered these tips, then that’s probably the reason why you’re not the decathlon world record holder.
4 The GB & NI multi-eventing youngsters were all over January like a rash, led by Niamh Emerson winning the senior pentathlon in Cardiff in a world lead, but also with great wins for Holly Bell, who shared first place with the talented Maria Vicente in the U20 event, and for Jack Turner in the U20 heptathlon. “Scotland” and “decathlon” are not traditionally words you’d find together in recent years, but Andrew Murphy was only 12 points from Jamie Quarry’s 20 year old Scottish heptathlon record this month. Scott Brindley and Joel McFarlane swapped the Scottish U20 heptathlon record in January, and Howard Bell won the U23 in Sheffield and donned his first senior GB vest in Cardiff.
5 A sequence of combined events meetings in intimate arenas across the continent gave us good insight into the state of multi-events in different countries. We already know that German decathlon is mental, but even without Kai and Arthur, Germany had four men in the heptathlon European top ten in January. In Clermont-Ferrand we were bathed in a richness of French performances, any combination of which could feature in a French team for Glasgow. And Spain is also looking good, with Jorge strong and Jonay Jordan improving all the time.
6 A special mention for Julian Olivas, finishing ahead of many better-known French athletes in both Clermont-Ferrand and in Cardiff. One to watch in future French teams.
7 It seems that one just had to whisper “Erki Nool” into the wind and another Estonian PB fell from the sky. At the Estonian Cup in January Janek Õiglane (on a long haul back from injury) set a 5.15 pole vault PB and a 8.15 60 hurdles PB, and Karl-Robert Saluri joined in the fun with a new shot put best. 2019 is going to be the year you need to work out the tilde shortcuts on your keyboard.
8 If you thought Sam Kendricks and Renaud Lavillenie were the Bert and Ernie of athletics, then Dominik Distelberger and Kai Kazmirek would beg to differ. The boys’ January training camp in Tenerife demonstrated that their multi-event bromance is here to stay for 2019.
9 Honorary decathlete of Europe for this month is Cedric Dubler, for whom we’re on #hammywatch. The injury occurred before Christmas in Perth during a pole vault take-off, but a casual 10.63 in training in January suggests Cedric’s hamstring is on the mend.
X Last, because this was the big one. We know two Germans have already qualified for Glasgow. We know Germany has hunners of athletes in the European and World top ten. But the performance of the month goes to Andreas Bechmann, who scored a stunning 8-PB 6017 in Halle on Sunday 26 January, and became the number-one-scoring German so far this year, briefly holding the world lead until Jorge scooped it back later that day.