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Ratingen and a continental record! (3)

Chris Vlamynck for Decathlon 2000
freelance journalist
July 19, 2011

Is there something to read about a French and Arabian speaking Algerian who made an African record in the European nation Germany, written by a Belgian guy on an Estonian site? Let’s see.

Larbi Bourrada entertained  multi event fans for two days in the German city Ratingen – probably  third Decathlon city in the world behind Götzis and Talence. In Germany decathlon is written with a capital “D” and the atmosphere was fantastic.  Already early in the game it was clear to the decathlon loving public that they could expect a great weekend. Rico and Pascal hoped to make the team (together with Jan Felix Knobel) for the world championships in Daegu, but they had to perform on a high level, qualifying by doing the 8200 points standard.

The competition started with a meeting record (wind +3.4) for Rico Freimuth in the 100 meters and a 10.50 performance (pb) and with a little help of airstream the other athletes profited also to present or a personal best or a result close to their pb. The same in the long Jump! Again an outstanding result this time from Larbi Bourrada. 7 meters 94 and a meeting record. If it goes on like that, the organizers were saying, we will have to reduce the rewards as bonuses. That’s a joke. A day later Pascal Behrenbruch wasn’t joking when he threw another meeting record of 71 meters 40 in the javelin to get on course again for his 8200.

All together it was a decathlon with ups and downs for the German guys but not for Larbi Bourrada. Starting with two pb’s – 10.61 and 7.94 there was expectation in the air. Shot 12.82 or second best ever in a decathlon. He won the high jump with a 2.06 performance or (again) his second best in a decathlon.  400 meters in 48.19 was not the best he ever did (he ran three times under 48.00 in a decathlon and he has a very good 46.69 pb) but the weather wasn’t best imaginable for a 400m. He’s best first day total went this way from 4312 (Nairobi 2010) to 4409 points.

An African record in the making, but was there a small problem with the new wind rule? The average has to be +2.00 m or less for the three wind readings (or the sum must be +6.00m or less). After the first day: the wind reading was already: Bourrada +6.1m; Freimuth +5.6m; Behrenbruch +5.3m; Coertzen 6.00m; and one more wind reading had to be added! No problem for the athletes mentioned here or the African record. A negative wind of  -0.3m was ordered and delivered at the Erdgas mehrkampf meeting in Ratingen in the 110 meters hurdles and the sum of wind readings  (for the first four at least) was under 6.00m.

Bourrada pb’d in the discus but Freimuth toke over the lead in that event and in the next two events. Bourrada fell a few times in the pole vault in a way that certainly wasn’t beneficial to his javelin-throwing-arm! So when it came to throwing the javelin  Bourrada suffered. If it wasn’t of that pain in his arm the African record probably would have be 8400 because Larbi can throw 67m12 (Algerian championships 2010) and he had to be satisfied now with 58.05 at his last attempt. After winning the long jump, the high jump and the 400 meters – why not winning the 1500 meters? Being a 4 minutes 12.15 sec runner he managed to end his 1,5k in a comfortable 4m 21.42 s and win the last event to. Bourrada 8302 points for a new African record and Rico Freimuth 8287 points or 1 point less than Knobel in Götzis! Congratulations Larbi for the new record, Rico and Pascal for qualifying, and thanks to the rest of the field for very good performances and giving a great spectacle that is called “decathlon”.

Coaches are always in the shade, so I asked Ahmed Mahour Bacha coach of Bourrada who he was? Bacha himself was a decathlete in the early eighties. He had a repectable total of 7934 points in 1985 and was a deserving javelin thrower with a personal best of 80m04 on 15 08 85 in Caïro!

Rico’s feelings about the decathlon? “The first day went well except the high jump. But on the second day there where ups and downs, especially during each event! So, mentally I always had to energize myself again and again. For example in the discus I started with 42 to end with 47, then after 450 in the pole vault I needed three tries for 460 and the same again for 480. Then in the javelin I started with 57 to go to 58 to end with a very good 65 meters. I knew from training that I progressed I the throwing – so I expected 63 meters. And then this 1500 – it was a hard one.”

Rico where is your dad, is he following your progress?

“Dad” he shouted, and there came Uwe Freimuth, the legendary 8792 points men and still number 8 all time. A threat even for Daley Thompson at the Olympic games in 1984 if it wasn’t of the eastern bloc’s boycott. Rico is called to the podium and his father shakes hands. Uwe speaks fluent English and is a technical director now in Vietnam!

“Rico certainly can grow in the throwing events” says a proud father and when I ask him what he thinks the limits are in the future for his son, he gives a cautious answer “I hope for more than 8600 in the future but that’s very difficult to say!”

Pascal did you have doubts about the 8200 limit? “Yes especially after the pole vault!” What happened? In Götzis a personal best in the pole vault and here 4.40! “Yes I know its one of those strange things – concentration problems and certainly the wind. Because you know, at the time when I started decathlon, I felt pole vault was a scary event but now its one of my favorites. Anyhow I was able to pump myself up again and had a very good javelin pb and I’m very pleased with my run.” (Pascal Behrenbruch ran his best 1500 since Ratingen 2006).

Short News

Andre Niklaus is coming back from two years of injury (foot). He was pleased with this decathlon he said – considering the conditions. For example he did not even jump the last month except one jump in the pole vault! He certainly continues in the future.

Aleksei Sysoyev. Two years ago his Achilles tendon was completely ruptured.

Jangy Addy. Abdominals injured two years ago. Ended up first studying and getting a degree. If he was able to do one or two seconds better than he’s 4 min 56 pb in the 1500 m in Ratingen this year he would have had 8000 points again.

Comments (3)

TimR wrote on July 20, 2011
Excellent summary, Chris! Thank you.
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Phil Vassallo wrote on July 20, 2011
You wrote an entertaining piece. We need more like this. Thanks, Chris.
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Illimar Pilk wrote on Sep 01, 2011
Thanks chris
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