Each year at the end of may, Götzis changes and becomes the capital of the world. Indeed you can say “International” is the word here. More than sixty athletes from twenty four country’s all over the world were invited. Thirty four men and twenty six women started the competition on Saturday. All right, the day begins with good weather and everyone is hopeful for good results. After all many predicted a world record for or from Bryan Clay.
Okay, as starting point we have his personal best performance of 8832 points and we try to compare event by event. Clay begins with 10.35 for the hundred meters followed by 10.39 Hardee (“I certainly want to beat Bryan in the 100 m this weekend” he said at the press conference). A personal and a meeting record for Bryan Clay. You can’t imagine a better start. Is the record coming? The long jump and Clay hesitates in the running up of the first jump. He jumps 6 meters 55. Hopeful isn’t the word anymore. His second jump and the scoring board shows us 7 meters 13. In his best decathlon his scores were 10.39 for the hundred and 7 meters 39 for the long jump. He certainly has to jump better than that to get on pace for the world record. Third jump and everybody sighs because he did 7 meters 51.
In his best decathlon Bryan threw 15 meters 17, so we keep that in mind. His first attempt seems to be a good one but he touches the borderline with his foot. A second throw and a performance of 15 meters 38 followed by a zero points throw. Still ahead of what he did at the Olympic Trials in Eugene 2008 but that’s not the way the world record will be broken! High jump. Clay starts with 1.94 followed first by a zero jump on 2.00! He gives the Americans behind me nearly a heart attack. No panic, it’s he’s turn again and he jumps the height. The bar go’s to 2.03 and he’s doing it again, same as the previous one – good on the second. Don’t get nervous at all – he was only joking. The bar is raised to 2.06 and he shows he can do it with only one try. I look at the clock and it’s 17 hours 13. At the moment it’s raining enough to get Noah build an ark again. Instead of real rain it should be raining personal bests as Clay is trying for 2.09 (as does Drozdov and Suarez) but nobody gets higher.
Next question that we ask ourselves is – are we going for an American (8891) instead of a world record? With a time of 49.66 for the four hundred meters (in the rain) we can forget this one to. We don’t have to compare the performances any longer with Bryans personal record scores because this is where everybody feared for: the athletes have a new bad competitor in the field - the weather, and he acts like an unfair opponent who makes it as bad and unpleasant as he can for all the other players. Under normal circumstances we expect Bryan to be the leader at the end of the day but Kasyanov took the honors also thanks to a jump of 7 meters 97 at his third attempt in the long jump.
The second day and our pleasant friend is there again – bad weather. The women have to jump in a wet sandpit and the sand sticks to their faces, arms, legs and to the rest of their body. This looked as world war one and the coming out of the trenches but the girls were as always very brave under the circumstances. All together accidents and the weather are responsible for a withdraw of thirteen men and five women at the end of the day! Meaning Diaz already during the hundred meters, the day before, Zsivoczky after the high jump and at the start of the second day Sebrle, Almgren and Hardee during warming up.
Clay takes over the lead after the hurdles with a relative good time of 14.08 although he expected a much better time. Last month he made a personal best of 13.64. Unfortunately he touched the last two hurdles and lost time in compensating this. Bryan won the discus with his first throw of 49.85 (two other throws: zero). Drozdov doesn’t throw one good discus and is “out”. (3 times zero)
The temperature is dropping and we already suspect that Bryan Clay will be first. With athletes like him the question is who will be the second? Now someone that is really doing good is Romain Barras. He threw a personal best in the shot put of 16.19 and is sometimes very close to personal records. He seems not to be affected by the weather. I’m impressed and I think he’s in the form of his life. Not many athletes in the world have a personal best of 2550 points or more for the last three events. If the others were not able of building up enough points, someone like him has an advantage.
Next event in the decathlon is a complete new one. I don’t know how they call it but it must be something like “pole vault diving” or ever heard of “pole vault swimming”? It’s when you do the pole vault and lands in a swimming pool. Best clothes to be dressed in must be swimwear or a wetsuit! It makes me think of Alain Blondel in 1994 in Helsinki. He won because of a 5.40 jump in the pouring rain and really landed in a pool of water. I hear Ian Cowell the Brit next to me saying “Man it’s raining cats and dogs”. Clay leader. Barras number 24 after the long jump but eighth after the discus. Kasyanov, Garcia, Bertocchi and Smith are respectively 2, 3, 4 and 5 in front of him. Temperature is dropping and the weather gods are pouring buckets of water over the stadium. The show must go on and what happens to number 2 to 5? Bertocchi cancelled. Kasyanov, Garcia and Smith out! No match in the pole vault! That means that Romain becomes third after Clay an Arnold. Jake Arnold and Roland Schwarzl jumped 5.10. Sintnicolaas an Barras good for 5.00.
And what a spectacle that was in this stormy conditions. Barras has his eyes on the silver, he is third after the pole vault but only with six points of difference. Clay 4.60 but he gathered already so much points that it can’t go wrong for him. Those athletes will need a lot of vitamin C after the happening. Local newspapers are showing pictures of Clay like he went swimming. Felix Knobel has the best throw with 66.51 and Clay 66.19 in the javelin and Jake Arnold adds twelve more points to the difference between himself and Romain but Barras is the better runner and becomes second with Suarez on his heels as the number three. Clay under the five minutes for the 1500 meters (4.56.37) Barras (4.31.07) Suarez (4.27.56) an Jake Arnold (4.40.74).
Next stop for many of the athletes who were in Götzis is Kladno (15 and 16 june). When asked about the world record Roman Sebrle said “If there is one man that can do it, it is Bryan Clay. At the moment I think it’s the only man to my knowledge that can do it.” We all hope there will be much better weather in KLadno as well as we wish Bryan and the other athletes success.