|European Championships Barcelona III
So – I actually needed half a day to recover from yesterday’s time at the stadium. But now I’m ready to share some impressions from the - I have to admit quite exciting - decathlon competition.
Though it started with a surprise / disappointment.. Neither Kasyanov nor Wiberg, both of whom were among my candidates for the medals, did not compete anymore. Barras on the other hand started his second day just like the first one – beating the time of his best decathlon and advancing to third place behind Draudvila and Krauchanka. Draudvila kept his lead on through the discus throw that didn’t change much in the overall standings as all of the aspirants for the title. It was the beginning though of a great second day for Dutch Eelco Sintnicolaas. Already with a personal record at 110m hurdles he improved his discus PB by 2 metres and his strong discipline was yet to come…
Pole vault – my favourite event of the dayas the decathletes actually have the whole stadium for themselves. But of course it was just the real decathlon fans / supporters that stayed at the venue in the afternoon – great support for all the athletes though. Krauchanka, jumping in the group with the weaker pole vaulters, started his competition by clearing 4.65 but his next attempts at 4.85 began with a shock – broken pole and it took him some time and effort to get a replacement. But though it seemed to confuse him at first – it took him 3 attempts to clear that height – he recovered and jumped 5.05, a height that moved him into first position after 8 events. Draudvila, the leader up to that point, only jumped a decent 4.55, but with 8.032 points and 7th position in the end he should be satisfied. The other top athletes all jumped in the other group… Pahapill had some problems at 4.85, only clearing it at the last attempt, then a great jump at 4.95 but no further – probably less than expected and though he was still on 3rd position he would need a really good javelin throw to keep his chances for a (gold) medal. Barras on the other hand cleared every height from 4.65 up to 5.05 at the first attempt, but 5.15 was still too much. That height was actually just the starting point for Sintnicolaas – just amazing how a young athlete like him has the confidence to start that high and then leave out the next height. But 5.25 were no problem for him, and he pushed himself even higher to 5.35 and 5.45 in the end. It’s actually been a long time that we haven’t seen jumps like that – probably since Erki Nool no one has jumped that high. That height moved him into 2nd position just behind Pahapill.
A short break later (and with huge clouds starting to pile up above the stadium) the next discipline started with the first javelin throwers. Nothing remarkable though, probably due to more or less difficult wind conditions, until one of the very last throwers. Lars Vikan Rise seemed to catch a great wind and his javelin flew to over 70 metres – increasing his former PB by more than 6 metres to 71.71. After that we had to wait for more than 1 hour for the next group and during that time, to the dismay of everyone including spectators, decathletes and especially the high jumpers warming up, the rain started. Light at first but it would not stop – difficult conditions now for the next group. Barras though did not seem to have any concerns with the weather – 65.77, just a couple of centimeters short of his PB, in the first attempt and huge cheers in the French team. Pahapill could not keep up with that: though he has a PB of 67 metres none of his throws went over 60 metres and his chances for a medal were as good as gone. Why? Because Sintnicolaas – usually a rather weak thrower – caught a good wind as well when his last javelin flew to 62.57.
After the javelin throw the situation could actually not be more exciting. Sintnicolaas just 5 points behind Barras with Krauchanka relatively secure in 3rd position. The Dutch started the race always running behind Barras, probably hoping to overtake and beat him at the very last moment. But 200m away from the finish line Barras showed his strength in the last event and increased the distance to Sintnicolaas meter by meter, already starting to cheer with 50m to go.
Congratulations to Romain! Great competition, great new personal best and he is one of the athletes that really deserved to finally win a medal!
Also an amazing second day for Sintnicolaas – he’s one athlete for the future and Krauchanka also seems to be back in the world class at only 24 years.
My personal hero of the day though (except for all decathletes of course): Swedish 5.000 m runner Wallerstein who was very last in his heat and started celebrating during the last 100m, cheering to the crowd and finally crossing the finish line by running backwards. That’s what I call self-mockery..
|European Championships Barcelona II
Well – back from the stadium and the first day of the decathlon.. Tired of course, but I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised by the whole competition… So far it has been a great decathlon – just on drop-out so far and ten athletes actually seem to be on their way to a PB after the first day (based on previous results)
The start into the competition was rather slow in my opinion. Except for Kasyanov’s 10.60 (and maybe a couple of others – Draudvila, Sintnicolaas) times were more or less average, but not bad. After the long jump which Kasyanov won again with 7.88 he seemed to be aiming for a position at the top from the very start – leading by more than 100 points. Which is not that unusual for him… But after that his performances got much worse (just 14.27 in the shot put, 2.04 with a lot of effort in the high jump, slow 49.41 over 400m), while other athletes started to perform over or close to their personal bests.
Now I’m really hoping for a good second day. Conditions will probably stay that way and pole vault will be at noon – so I hope it’s not going to be too hot to get some good results. I suppose (and I hope) it’s going to be a really close fight for both the title and the podium. For me the pool of prospective winners has even increased.
Barras had an impressive first day, doing better in every single event than during his best decathlon so far in Tallinn this year. And he has quite strong second day, especially in comparison to Kasyanov
Pahapill is starting to be the man of the last attempts (best mark in the long jump and the shot put and clearing both 2.04 and 2.07 with his last attempt) and is more than 100 points ahead of his best decathlon.
Krauchanka might actually be back after having some problems still in Götzis (I think he was injured before). His start was not so good, but he got better during the competition and with a good pole vault he might climb even higher.
Drozdov might (for me) still be a candidate for a medal, but I don’t think he can win the competition. Compared to the others his second day, especially the 1.500m, is not as good – he just lost too many points in the shot put.
Wiberg actually could still get into the race for the podium. He has a really good second day and is just about 50 points behind his PB of 8406 points right now. His total score might depend a little on the pole vault and how well he has recovered from an inury.
One point that was rather disappointing though I have to say is the championship in general. Not even 30.000 people in the stadium today (and just like 5.000 in the morning I think..) and except for those groups supporting some special athletes it’s just the Spanish athletes that are cheered for. And it’s kind of hard to follow all the events, which might also be due to language problem.
Somehow Berlin last year felt much more like an important athletics event. Of course it was a world championship, but if I remember back to Munich 8 years ago (and Göteborg 2006 as well, at least on TV) there were many more people in the stadium and the whole atmosphere was somehow more excited.
That’s it for now – time to sleep and prepare for tomorrow
|European Championships Barcelona I
So I’m sitting at the Baden-Baden airport right now waiting for my flight to Barcelona. I’m way too early, but after yesterday I really prefer not to take any risks like delayed trains or long queues at check in. Very quiet here though – so actually I could have taken the train 2 hours later (and I really needed the sleep, but I can get some rest now at least).
Even though I’m really looking forward to the trip I have to say I don’t expect that much from the decathlon competition in Barcelona. Too warm, some athletes not competing, some out of shape… But maybe it’s just my “lack of preparation” that makes me feel that way. Work at the lab really made it hard to keep in track with all the recent results and stories. Right now it’s just great to get away and have a week watching athletics, doing some sightseeing and enjoying the sun.. And as soon as I’m in the stadium maybe I’ll be a little more optimistic about the decathlon as well..
More on that tomorrow – now it’s time to see this evening’s competitions live in the stadium (by now I’ve arrived in Barcelona and got some internet access at the hotel)
|TV coverage of decathlon events
|I have to say I’m really enjoying the possibilities to watch different combined events meetings this year- I don’t actually have to go all the way to Götzis or Kladno to see the event, but I can simply turn on the resepective tv station’s online broadcast and watch everything I want to see. Even the US college championships were available on a decent live stream.
But what about Ratingen? It’s actually the most important German combined events meeting of the year.. True – it’s certainly not as international as Götzis or Kladno and you don’t get the chance to see athletes like Clay or Sebrle. But still for German decathletes it’s about qualifying for this year’s European championships. And in the past year’s the international competition has not been that bad, including athletes like Karpov, Smith, Sebrle, Pahapill or Garcia. Still I can’t actually remember if there has ever been any live coverage of the event on German TV. They did some 5-minute summaries in the evening’s sports news, but that’s it. And this year I haven’t even found anything of that kind yet, not even on the local tv stations. Well, of course, they have to do all kinds of reports from the soccer world cup (no time for any other sports during world cup time) and live coverage of the Swedish princess’ wedding. So, as I can not go there myself this year, I most probably won’t be able to see any part of the Ratingen competition. I’m still hoping maybe for an online stream by the organizers themselves or at least live results – we will see.
What about TV coverage of combined events in your countries? Do you get to see any events besides big ones like the World championships or Olympic Games (that at least they manage to do in Germany – even though instead of showing the final event of Berlin last year they preferred to broadcast some soccer match).
The first glance out of the window on Sunday morning actually should have prepared us for the day: nothing but rain and clouds, just as predicted…
Actually it was worse, but let’s start with the first event. Even before the start oft he 110m hurdles race the first bad news got out that 3 more athletes (after Diaz and Zsivoczky on Saturday) had to quit the competition due to injuries, including Trey Hardee and Roman Sebrle. Due to the wet track the first heats are rather slow, but we were still hoping for a fast final heat with Bryan Clay, as he ran 13.64 in the beginning of May. Even though the first attempt was a false start (and according to the new IAAF rules the next athlete starting to early will be disqualified – stupid in my opinion) he started quite well, but touched the the last hurdles and lost time there – still a 14.08, beaten only by García (14.02) and Raja (14.05).
For the discus throw we actually feared worse results, but the rain got a little lighter. Only one thrower, Drozdov, did not manage a single good throw. We saw a couple of PBs and a good throw by Bryan Clay in his second attempt to 49.85 m
Unfortunately the most difficult discipline on the second day was affected the strongest by the rain. It was raining like crazy and the athletes definitely had their problems keeping themselves and their poles dry. The result was kind of obvious: 6 athletes failed at their first height plus Massimo Bertocchi suffered an injury while warming up – suddenly every athlete between place 2 and 5 after the discus was out of the race fort he podium. But though all in all the pole vault results were rather disappointing, some athletes actually jumped 5.00m or even higher. One point worth mentioning: while almost every athlete began his jumps at quite low heights (like 4.20) Sintnicolaas did his first attempt at 5.00m – and cleared it without any problems.
The javelin throw as well was accompanied by constant rain and also unfavourable wind conditions. Best thrower not Suarez as one might have expected but Jan Felix Knobel with 66.51. Unfortunately he was among the 6 athletes without any pole vault result while on the way to a PB, but we will see what he can do in Ratingen.
After 9 disciplines Clay was clearly in the lead – more than 300 points ahead of Arnold, Barras and Suarez, who were all quite close together. With a good 1.500m race both Barras and Suarez were able to catch up with Arnold.
In the end Clay finished with a score of 8483 points – not that bad considering the conditions. There were 10 athletes with more than 8.000 points and 5 athletes still finished with a decathlon PB (Arnold, Sintnicolaas, Dudas, Newdick, Distelberger – hope I did not forget anyone). The very promising results of the first day could unfortunately not be continued on Sunday. I can’t remember ever seeing so many athletes dropping out in one single event, especially not so many in a good position for the podium.
The first day in Götzis started pretty well in my opinion. The weather was quite nice (much better than expected) – actually before the rain started perfect conditions for a decathlon.
The first event was quite promising as well: a lot of PBs in the 100m race and especially great times for Clay & Hardee.
Unfortunately the long jump could not really keep up with that. Maybe it was due to quite windy conditions but neither of the two favorites could get close to their personal bests in the long jump. Instead other athletes like Kasyanov (7.97) or Mihail Dudas (7.63) could impress the crowd.
The high jump started in perfect conditions, maybe it was even too warm. But then at 2.06 it started to rain and I suppose that’s why just 3 athletes managed to clear that height and none got further
My personal surprises of day 1 are Larbi Bourrada from Algeria and Canadian Massimo Bertocchi. I never expected them among top 5 even just after day 1. But actually both of them have a much weaker second day, so there are going to be a couple of changes in the front.
I was rather disappointed at Behrenbruch , Pahapill and Hardee. They are definitely still up for a good 8000 score, but I simply expected a little more personally.
Still, although there might be a couple of below-average performances the overall impression for me was quite good. A lot of athletes are on the way to a PB and of the 35 starters just 2 dropped out so far (we will see if anyone else quits by tomorrow).
Unfortunately tomorrow’s weather forecast is not quite as good as for today, more rain and a little colder, so I suppose we cannot expect any great scores.
|Leaving for Götzis
Now it’s almost 5 a.m. in the morning and I’m ready to leave for Götzis.
Actually I have started asking myself why I’m doing it at all: coming home late yesterday, packing the stuff in the evening, trying to find a place to stay as the weather is not really good for camping, getting up at 4 in the morning, 4 hour-drive, two days in the stadium, going back late on Sunday and back to work on Monday morning. During the past 10 years it’s been the same procedure every year, missing quite a lot of things on the same weekend like my own competitions (some time ago), an exam on the Monday afterwards or my favourite soccer club winning the German cup.
The answer is quite simple: it’s all worth it. Götzis is the one place for me to see a real decathlon competition (and heptathlon also of course) once a year.Even though sometimes the list of participants might not be that great on first glance like last year or the weather is supposed to be “unfavourable” you always have something to talk about and a lot of small things to remember. As far as I can think back I’ve never regretted going. Like in 2001: we were actually planning not to go – I had a regional championship coming up I think. But just imagine not having gone there in that particular year, I suppose I would have regretted that one forever. Sometimes I get lucky and there’s a big championship like Berlin 2009 that I can go to as well, but most of the years it’s just Götzis. And still: Götzis is something special as you’re really close to the competitions and the athletes and it’s a really great atmosphere.
So every year in May the planning starts again for this one trip to Vorarlberg at the end of May. Actually I start looking forward to it again as soon as I’m back home. And I hope it’s a tradition that will last a long time - this year is now my 16th time in Götzis (ever since 1994, at the age of 8).
|So here I want to write about some decathletes, that have really impressed me personally in the last couple of years. Both with good results but also with the way they interact with other athletes and how they represent decathlon.
The one I want to start with is Trey Hardee. The first time I actually noticed him was last year in Götzis. Of course he had already competed at a lot of meetings in the US during the previous years and I knew he had failed in the pole vault at the Beijing Olympic Games.
But Götzis was his first competition in Europe and he seemed to enjoy every moment of it. That’s what impressed me most from the very start. He was always joking around with other athletes or the crowd (like giving his sunglasses to a child right behind him during the high jump..), trying to animate people to cheer for his opponents. And even though he was beaten by 6 points in the end he seemed pretty happy with himself and the whole competition.
So when it came to the World championships in Berlin he (from his personality as well as from the season’s results) was my big favourite for the title. And I think also the spectators in Berlin really liked his performance. He was always in the top spot, but never seemed arrogant or exclusive, but always down-to-earth and even sometimes a little surprised at his own performance.
He is also one of the athletes who is present on the www with his homepage with frequent updates, blogs and videos. He really cares about his fans and loves the decathlon.
And at 26 years he is still quite young and there is potential to increase his PB of 8.790 points. Maybe even above 9.000? It’s possible: he’s one of the fastest athletes, has improved impressively in the throwing events last year and if he really had to he should be able to do better in the 1500 metres.
I read he himself was really impressed by the European decathlon fans; he was not used to so much cheering and knowledge about decathlon from the US. So I really hope he’ll be back to Götzis and other meetings in the next couple of years.
I started loving athletics and especially the decathlon mainly through my parents. At the age of 8 years we went to Stuttgart to watch the World Championships which was my first contact with athletics. After that our annual visits to Götzis started, which really made me fall in love with the multi-events. If you have ever been there you will probably know why! So every year I take the trip to Austria and I will probably still go there in 20 years (at least I hope so). Whenever there is the chance to watch a major championships (like Berlin last year or Barcelona this year) I also try to take the chance.
A couple of years ago I decided to start my own homepage http://decathlonfans.de.funpic.de/ to share some personal experiences and information on meetings and athletes. As I'm currently at the end of my study time at university I haven't been able to work very much on the website, as studying and working takes up a lot of time. But I hope to find the time pretty soon to include some updates.