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Ashton and Brianne Eaton interrupting their honeymoon for the Decastar in Talence.

Renaud Lavillenie attempting to break the pole vault world record in decathlon.

This where the headlines for the weekend in Talence. Asked Friday if he recovered completely from the pain he felt behind his right knee, Ashton said he wasn’t expecting to do better in the high jump than in Moskou (1.93)!). After a relatively good start in the 100 meters, the world record holder participated in the long jump and felt his back hurt after an effort, he wondered if he could continue and threw nevertheless 13.94 in the shot put. His back didn’t feel better at all. Trying and missing a low bar of 1.81 convinced him not to continue the decathlon. Disappointment  for the public but as the speaker said we hope the American has  a complete and good recovery to see some fire work next year. And he promised to come back to Talence!

Like French Olympic champions Guy Drut and Jean Galfione before him, Renaud Lavillenie decided to participate at a decathlon in Talence. His double challenge? Get 7000 points - to be officially accepted in the decathlon world - (unofficially to the IAAF) and break the pole vault record in the decathlon from Tim Lobinger  which stands at 5.76. Lavillenie was very confident. “I’m ready after all I accomplished this year”. he said “ in my daily preparation I often tried other events like long jump, the hurdles and high jump which gave me a good base for the deca”. Only the throwing events are not his strongest. He tried about three training sessions for the discus and the javelin and the throwing events where not really worrying him. He never did a 400 before and hoped to be able to run what is needed in the 1500. “One thing I’m shore” he said “ I will be tired at the end of the week!” A local newspaper asked him where he finds the physical and moral sources to compete at this level – like he did last week at Bruxelles where he jumped his second best jump of the year, so late in the season. “I always had this mental force” replied the jedi “and when there’s an atmosphere in the stadium – it really helps. I Hoped to end the season with a good performance”. When asked about the disillusionment  in Moskou, “That’s the past” he said “it even helps me to concentrate on what’s coming. For many years I wanted to do a decathlon but the circumstances where not good before.”

A booklet given at the meeting in Talence gave the following results for Renaud: 100/11.04-//-LJ/7.37-//-SP/9.61-//-1.89-//-400/?-//-110H/14.51-//-DT/?-//-PV/6.03-//-JT/?-//-1500/? I took all this in account and tried to make an estimate with a 53 run for the 400, 29 for the Discus, 5.77 (WR) in the pole vault, 40 javelin and (knowing he did more than 3 min for his 1000 meters in a heptathlon) 5min 21 sec in the 1.5K. This was giving him 7001 points! The French supporters followed the performances with great attention hoping to see him break a personal record in one of the events to get some advantage on the estimated score  (I certainly wasn’t  the only one making an estimate), but he performed relatively close to his pb’s without bettering one of his personal records on the first day. His performances for the first day: 11.38/7.18/9.30/1.87/53.84. That 53.84 for the 400 is interesting to compare to the lowest 400 from an 8000+performer which is from Sheldon Blockburger: 53.76 (8064 in Götzis 1994) but still from an 8000 performer!

The second day he started with a 15.13 time for the hurdles. Now it was clear that he needed at least a 30 meters throw in the discus and Renaud started with 27.79. Would he do more? Contentment for the French crowd when he threw 30.02 on the second! Time for a new prognostic! Improving the record with one centimeter is one thing but getting 7000 (with 5.77) is another. It would have meant to throw for example 50in the javelin and run 5 min 2sec or doing respectively 47.10/4m 55sec. Clearly 5.87 in the pole vault would help much. So another estimate was 5.87/45.2/4m 56s. Enough speculation, we just had to wait for what happened.

At 16h18 Lavillenie, Marchand and Sintnicolaas all three of them just jumped 5.27 in the pole vault. Ashton Eaton is presented to the crowd and asked what he thinks of the atmosphere with thousands supporting the decathletes who are still in the run for a good pole vault height. He is simply not used to this and is astonished about what is possible in Europe. He and Kevin Mayer make a  promise to come back next year and participate in the decathlon in Talence. (Sintnicolaas feels sick but jumped 5.27 anyway.) Alexandre Marchand and Eelco don’t get higher than 5.27 while Renaud go’s to 5.47 without a problem. Then he misses twice at 5.67 and give’s the crowd nearly a heart attack. At his third try the crowd makes a noise that even would scare the devil himself. They were standing at their feet, clapping hands, shouting, thousands of them. But! He felt he’s running wasn’t good (he’s attacking the bar) he stopped with the pole in the pit, not even jumping, and a red flag went up. Suddenly there was a  silence in the stadium. Nobody wanted to believe what happened. There was so much expectation but he didn’t get over the height! The speaker knew what to do with this anticlimax, he was talking this through and gave some information about what was the next step. Too bad, unfortunate, regrettable, this are the words. Next year?

When the javelin started it looked already as if Krauchanka would become the winner of the Combined Events Challenge because Warner the leader (leading at this point with 150 points in Talence) should equal two personal bests to be seven points better in the overall counting. At the end of the season no personal records are made and Chinin who had a shot at the top eight fell out with a zero jump in the pole vault! Lavillenie throws 38.86 in the javelin and runs 5 min 14.19 sec. Even with a better pole vault he wouldn’t have got the world record lacking to produce a 7000 decathlon. The end score 6676 points from Lavillenie learns us that even equaling the real pole vault world record from Sergei Bubka with 6.15 would have given him an 6899 score or 101 points short of the needed 7000. Nevertheless its always interesting to see a one event specialist perform next to the professional decathletes and Renaud Lavillenie is a great athlete. Renaud himself never underestimated the decathlon nor the decathletes which he hold in great esteem. Another athlete with bad luck is Pittomvils having cleared only 5.68 in the long jump competition (one jump looking good was recognized as a bad one by the referee, otherwise he would have been top eight).

The final standings are the following:

1)      8161 Warner

2)      8118 Coertzen

3)      8018 Sintnicolaas

4)      7938 Behrenbruch

5)      7808 Kharlamov

6)      7704 Ushiro

7)      7621 Lukyanenko

8)      7402 Bourguignon

9)      7351 Lelievre

10)   7322 Pittomvils

A short history of the pole vault record in decathlon (last fifty years):

1999   5.76 Tim Lobinger

1996   5.75 Jean Galfione

1988   5.70 Tim Bright

1987   5.62 Thierry Vigneron

1986   5.61 Philippe Collet

1977   5.50 Wladislaw Kozakiewicz

1967   5.20 Gennadi Blisnetzov

1967   5.00 Rick Sloan

1963   4.84 Yang Chuan-kwang

1962   4.63 John Dean Martin

1961   4.61 John Dean Martin

Prize money Talence (Euro)

1)      11500

2)      9000

3)      5700

4)      4550

5)      3500

6)      2300

7)      1750

8)      1200

Combined Events Challenge Men

1)      25084 Krauchanka

2)      24980 Warner

3)      24768 Behrenbruch

4)      24731 Sintnicolaas

5)      24676 Coertzen

6)      24646 Nixon

7)      24068 Mikhan

8)      23865 Lukyanenko

Combined Events Challenge Women

1)      19310 Melnychenko

2)      19158 Theisen

3)      19014 Rath

4)      18995 Tyminska

5)      18807Broersen

6)      18745 Klucinova

7)      18666 Ikauniece

8)      18488 Nana Djimou

Prize money for the Challenge (dollars)

1)30.000 2) 20.000 3)15.000 4) 10.000 5)8.000 6) 7.000 7) 6.000 8) 5.000

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