Episode 41: Have Yourself Tamberi Little Christmas

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Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to the Trackcastic Christmas special!  You’ve all been very, very good and so we have a sackful of Christmas athletico puns for you, a jolly Christmas athletics quiz, and a Secret Santa set of end of year awards.  And guess who has slid down our chimney to spread his Christmas cheer…it’s only athletico favourite Dr Dan.

Thanks for joining us in 2019! We’ll see you next year – it’s Olympics year!

Athleticos x

Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It is X days since my last decathlon.

By Gabby Pieraccini @smokymozzarella #decathletesofeurope

Bless me father, for I have sinned. It has been X days since my last decathlon.
X, in this case, equals 211 and Good God those 211 days without any decathletes of Europe have been purgatory. A jaunt to the European Cross Country Championship in Tilburg in December kept me going on the live athletics front, but even the Holy Trinity of Ingebrigtsens couldn’t fill the multi-event gap in my soul.

So last weekend I made my way to the delightful town of Clermont-Ferrand, a few hours west of Lyon, for the wonderfully-marketed X-Athletics combined events meeting. The meeting was organised by the Clermont Athletics Auvergne club, including Aurelien Preteseille, himself a former decathlete, and also coach to Ruben Gado. Who better to help organise a multi-event than a former multi-eventer?

I knew I was onto a winner when I encountered pâtisserie after pâtisserie in Clermont-Ferrand with Galette des Rois on display, clearly celebrating the gold medal-winning performance of Arthur Abele in Berlin during the summer of 2018.

The Stadium Jean-Pellez is perfect. It’s tiny but deceptively spacious with plenty of opportunities to view events from various angles. Within an hour of the event beginning, I overheard a conversation behind me, dissecting Gael Querin’s curious long jump technique. While the conversation was in French, some subjects transcend language barriers. We were soon chatting away. And 24 hours later, I was being interviewed by the in-stadium host who posed 3 important questions to me.

Question 1: Why did I buy a plane ticket from Scotland to come to Clermont-Ferrand?
Well, I went to Decastar in Talence in September where I witnessed old Kéké la braise burn up the world record. The guys who finished 5th, 6th and 9th in Talence were here in Clermont-Ferrand today, and quite frankly, the depth in French decathlon is amazing right now.

Question 2: Did I know any of the athletes competing?
Why, of course! Gael Querin (and of course Antoinette Nana Djimou competing in the pentathlon) are très célèbre in the multi-eventing world.

Jeremy Lelievre pacing Kevin Mayer in the 1500m in Talence will forever be one of my iconic decathlon moments. I get the shivers just thinking about it. You can’t miss the gigantic 6-foot 5 frame of Romain Martin, and his footage from the after-party in Talence deserves an Oscar. If you’re within 16m of Bastien Auzeil when he throws the shot you’re in trouble, and he is so good that American decathlete Stephen Bastien is clearly named after him (confusing many a commentator). And, of course, Ruben Gado has a wonderful pole vault, no more than we would expect from the land of the zippered-one, Renaud Lavillenie. So I didn’t just recognise the athletes competing, I’d enjoyed their performances for years.

Question 3: Who was my favourite to win?
One of the benefits of being half Scottish and half Italian is that when there is no Scot in a competition – such as the final stages of any football World Cup tournament – I can support the other half of my heritage. So naturally I was cheering on Simone Cairoli. But having no wish to be chased out of town by an angry crowd, of course I agreed that it would be wonderful if local hero Ruben Gado won the event.

I attempted to predict the result of the competition. I guessed Ruben-Simone-Gael. And I turned out be correct! But not before there was an almighty tussle between these 3 guys, and more.

This was a very different type of event from Talence. This was the type of multi-event where there is no clear favourite, a range of athletes all capable of winning, and an unusual combination of strengths and weaknesses. If Talence was The Kevin Show, then Clermont-Ferrand was a display of France’s strength in depth.

The 60m was won by speedy youngster Marc Perrin, and in fact 3 of the first 4 60m marks were made by athletes transitioning into the senior rankings, with Karly Maisonneuve and Makenson Gletty sharing the third fastest mark. But it was a strong start for Ruben, with 6.93s and second place in the first event.

The pendulum then swung back the other way, with Simone Cairoli going furthest in the long jump, and man was he pleased about it! It was enormously close behind Simone in the long jump with Ruben, Jeremy, Gael, Makenson and Spaniard Javier Perez all leaping within 12cm of each other.

Simone appears to be happy with his long jump

Simone was second overall, and so it was clearly going to be a France v Italy match. Or was it? Onto the shot, and while Romain Martin and Bastien Auzeil came storming back with their giant puts, it was Jonay Jordan Schäfer who had the longest mark by a mile (or at least by 50cm).

Jonay Jordan avec shot

As an aside, Spanish decathlon is also looking really perky right now. Jonay Jordan is definitely one to watch, and Jorge Ureña has the best heptathlon score of the year thus far. Together with Pau Tonneson’s return from a year out to focus on pole vault (Pau was the hero of the famous London 2017 decathlon lock-in), the squad is looking good.

We finished Day 1 with the high jump, won easily by Simone, and so the overnight scores were
1. Simone 3256
2. Makenson 3205
3. Jonay 3167.

Overnight leader: Simone Cairoli

One must admire the bravery of an Italian and a Spaniard occupying two of the podium spots overnight. But behind Makenson, the quintet of Ruben, Romain, Jeremy, Gael and Bastien were lurking, menacingly, in 4th-8th place. That’s not actually true, they weren’t menacing at all, they were all really lovely and charming. But stick with me.

Next morning, we were up bright and early (noon) for the 60m hurdles, won easily by Jonay. But when in France, expect sparks in the pole vault. Jonay and Simone’s indoor PBs are 4.50 and 4.60 respectively, so the balance was about to tip. The pole vault was won by another youngster, Julian Olivas in a 5.20PB with Ruben just behind him. But after 6 events only 12 points separated the top 3. Romain Martin was in first place, Simone second and Ruben third. Douze points!

Going into the final event, the 1000m, Ruben and Simone have pretty similar times, but they were going to have to watch out for the experienced Gael. When it comes to the middle-distance element of a multi-event, Gael is usually way out in front.  What a showdown.

As expected, Gael took it out, closely followed by Jeremy Lelievre. Throughout the duration of the event, Jeremy seemed to be a one-man occasional series of gauze bandages.

Jeremy Lelievre: a one-man occasional series of bandages

Simone’s hamstring seemed to be cramping, but Ruben ran like a man possessed to run 2:39 to Simone’s 2:43. First and second place were secured and Gael came back to take third.

Is there anything better than a closely-fought battle with half a dozen guys in the mix to win? And when those guys have unusual combinations of strengths, that makes for an even more fascinating contest.

But how wonderful to see Gael Querin get third. After what feels like a few years being lost in the crowd of French talent, the beanie-wearing Querin (it was pretty cold in the stadium) banked a really solid set of marks in Clermont-Ferrand. I’ve not mentioned him yet, but Max Maugein had his first competition back for a few years, and will join the others seeking to complete the field in Glasgow.

Gael Querin: a legend of French decathlon

There are 6 places up for grabs in Glasgow. Arthur Abele, Pieter Braun, Tim Duckworth, Kai Kazmirek, Vitali Zhuk and Martin Roe (and we assume Ilya too) have already been invited on the basis of their results in 2018. Away from Clermont-Ferrand, Fredrik Samuelsson logged some good marks in Stockholm last weekend. So who will be in Glasgow? And will they enjoy the Irn Bru?

The beauty of a smaller event is the chance for a range of people to shine, and here are some names with which you might not be too familiar. Makenson Gletty is cut from the same sturdy cloth as King Arthur, and was rarely far from the top of the scoreboard over the two days. He is surely poised for a breakthrough in the senior event. And for those who remember the great days of JJK, decathlon now has a JJS, in the shape of Jonay Jordan Schafer. Julian Olivas excelled at the pole vault, and likely has scope to improve in the other events. And I like the look of Karly Maisonneuve.

French decathlon is just so flipping good at the moment. Think about this: all 3 French athletes scored 3 no-jumps in the long jump in Berlin – a fact clearly destined to be the subject of a TV quiz question in future – yet both Ruben and Romain went on to perform really well in the rest of the competition. Performance, determination and depth.

Ruben, Gael, Karly, Julien and Jonay will be joining Jorge Ureña, John Lane, Ben Gregory, Scot Howard Bell and others in the combined events match in Cardiff (CZE-ESP-FRA-POL) next weekend.

Mesdames et Messieurs, I absolutely loved this 3-way battle between France, Italy and Spain as much I enjoyed the competition in Gotzis or Berlin. Well done to X-athletics for promoting the event so wonderfully, and thank you so much to the organisers who were kind enough to present me with some gifts to express their appreciation, 100%, for my support. 

Thank you, Clermont-Ferrand, for a wonderful weekend. With a welcome like that, I’ll be back next year! For me, next stop on the #decathletesofeurope 2019 tour: International Combined Events Meeting, Tallinn, 2-3 February 2019.

Ruben FTW!

Photos: Michel Fisquet, X-Athletics, James Rhodes and me.

Diamond League Part 1: Cheese, alphabet soup and Christian’s flowers

By Amanda @MandJ666

In the 19th century, young ladies used to partake in a European tour of culture. Following in these footsteps in 2018 I embarked on my own Diamond League tour of triple jump, street meets and all things athletics. This is a whistle stop overview of my thoughts on the meets I have attended, some of the highlights at each and other odd ramblings of an athletics fan.

There were originally 3 stops on my tour Lausanne, Monaco and Brussels, but as you will see in Part 2, a 4th meet was added after a chance conversation in Monaco. So why those 3? Well I had already visited each of these in previous years and enjoyed them, but more importantly all three meets include the men’s triple jump. (A spoiler here – I am the biggest TJ fan – or more accurately the biggest Christian Taylor fan around) so yes I planned my tour solely on the basis of:

a. is there a men’s TJ event?

b. has CT confirmed that he will be attending?

Once both boxes are ticked then I’m going

So the first leg of the tour this year was Lausanne. Now if you have never visited I can highly recommend. The lake is lovely, the beer reasonable, the Olympic museum a must and most importantly a meet that never fails to impress. This year the men’s PV was held the evening before on the edge of the lake – I do think to make it even more interesting, Mr. Coe, you could have had them vaulting on a floating platform on the lake- that would be a novel concept worthy of the best IAAF brainstorming committee meeting.

However even without the addition of water, this was an incredibly exciting event. You were centimetres away from the action and let’s be honest who amongst us wouldn’t want to be that close to some full on “Sam love” and Zippy action? The atmosphere was great, a real buzz, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, although the large pieces of cheese given as prizes did seem to freak Renaud out!

So onto the main event. The logistics of getting to the stadium are easy and access to the warm up track is also good. It was here that I found out the Tianna Bartoletta was injured. So now one of the few LJ competitions this season would be poorer for her lack of participation. I did invite her to sit with me in the stands to watch but she politely declined (this may have something to do with my full on CT outfit that may make others slightly nervous about being around me!) In a small field it was great to see Queen Cat taking on Spanovic & Lorraine. In the end however Mihambo showed the commitment and form that was to continue into the Euros and beyond to take the win.

Before I move on to the track events (in my reviews field events are always top billing) I of course have to mention the TJ. Now I’m not saying that an English women going completely mad as Laura Muir raced down the back straight put Triple P off but CT took the win by 1 cm so, hey, if that helped I’ll take the credit.

On the track 2 races really stood out for me, firstly the men’s 400H. My first chance to watch this season’s brilliant head to head with Warholm and Samba. I love the way Warholm races; he seems to know no other way than to give it everything from the ‘B’ of the bang and also how elegant and relaxed Samba is. On this occasion as so often Qatar overcame Norway. The last race of the evening was the men’s 200. The field was 3 Americans, 1 Brazilian, 1 Swiss and 3 others. Clearly top billing and this race didn’t disappoint – 19.69 an equal WL and a PB for Noah Lyles with a, now typical, Lyles celebration.

Overall Lausanne I’ll give you 10/10 – the fireworks were spectacular, my flowers were amazing and for the 200m alone I’d say the entrance fee was well spent.

So stop two on the grand tour was Monaco. Again another DL venue I can highly recommend. Clearly it’s not cheap to stay here but at 10€ for a ticket anywhere in the back straight it’s another must for the TJ fans. In previous years I’ve been lucky enough to sit with the coaches but this year I found myself mobbed by young children. I have to confess that I may have lightly ‘encouraged’ a few out of the way in my bid to watch the women PV and even the triple jumpers seemed overwhelmed by their screams.

On a warm July evening this year’s meet was set up to be a cracker and boy oh boy it did not disappoint. There were:

1 World Record, 6 World Leads, 4 Meeting Record and 1 Diamond League Record. so overall not a bad night!

Everywhere you looked there was a highlight, clearly for me the 17.86 in the TJ by one Mr. Taylor, however Lysenko =WL =MR PB of 2.40 in HJ was fabulous and seeing half beard back competing was great. This however was the night that the track outshone the field. For me Semenya in the 800 was a fabulous display of controlled dominance 1:54:60 MR in a field that had 4 PBs, 3 SBs, and 2 NRs the race of the night. But then what about Shaunae Miller-Uibo’s 400 race, 48:97 and an alphabet soup of WL, DLR, MR, NR & PB? My friend Noah continued his great form from Lausanne with 19:65 in the 200m – just a WL, MR, PB triple, not a bad day at the office. The men’s 1500m produced another WL & PB for Timothy Cheruiyot 3:28:41 and the men’s 3000SC gave El Bakkali a WL & PB with 7:58:15.

I have witnessed some amazing nights of athletics and have been in the stadium for previous world records but Chepkoech’s WR 8:44:32 and Frerichs AR/PB 9:00:85 was a master class in running and jumping.

This year Monaco also got in on the act with street meets. The men’s and women shot put took place on the previous evening at the harbour. What a venue, millionaires yachts, the Prince of Monaco, Sandi Morris’s chicken gate security issue and the elite of the Shot Put world. Now previously I’ve loved Dame Val but have to admit that SP would not have figured on my must see events, but my night in Monaco changed that. Now it could be due in part to a new found girl crush on Raven Saunders (19:67 SB) or the fact that Kevin Mayer (14:94) decided to have a go with the big boys or just the fact that the camaraderie between all of the competitors was on par with the PV love I’m not sure, but I’m definitely a convert. Gong won the women’s comp with a huge 20:31 with Dame Val’s 19:31 a SB, whilst Ryan Crouser won the men’s comp with 22:05.

So Monaco its 11/10 for you, the alphabet soup of records and leads make this a meet not to forget.

Article: Kat Challenges Nafi (ECh Heptathlon Review)

By Alex Walker @AlexAHW 

It was day three of the 2018 European Championships in Berlin and after the exploits of Arthur Abele the night before, fans of multi-eventing could turn their attention to the women’s side of affairs, with the start of the heptathlon.

The overwhelming favourite to take the title was Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium; the 2016 Olympic champion held the world leading score across the seven events going into the championships, while no other European had cracked the top 3 of heptathlon scores in 2018.

That’s not to say that the event was going to lack suspense, many questions still loomed over the competition: Would Nafi be able to challenge for Jessica Ennis-Hill’s championship record, or even the European record of Carolina Kluft? Would she overcome the teething problems she had experienced with her new javelin run up? And perhaps most importantly, would she be able to fend off Katarina Johnson Thompson and her newfound confidence?

The heptathlon began, as ever, with the 100m hurdles. The fastest time in this event would go to Louisa Grauvogel, the 22 year old German, who crossed the line in 12.97 much to the delight of the Olympiastadion crowd. Cachová of the Czech Republic and 2017 World silver medalist Carolin Schäfer provided the next fastest times over the barriers.

As for the two arguable main contenders, Johnson Thompson clocked a time of 13.34, 0.05 seconds short of her personal best in this event while Thiam’s time of 13.69 was 0.14 seconds slower than the time she had posted in Götzis earlier this year.

There is only so much that can be read into the first event of a multi-event competition, but Katarina Johnson Thompson showed that she was ready to fight for the title when Thiam was still blowing away a few cobwebs. If these two were to continue this way, then multi event fans would be in for a real treat.

Onto the high jump and what is usually the highest scoring event in the heptathlon. Following Nafi’s clearance of 2.01m in May, the crowd were expecting something big from her, and were pondering whether her British rival could respond.

A notable victim to the earlier heights was Carolin Schäfer, who only managed to clear 1.79m, 7cm and 88 points shy of her performance in London the year before. This left her adrift of her main two competitors and took her out of the race for the gold medal for the rest of the competition.

Thiam and Johnson Thompson however, both managed to keep a clean sheet up to and including 1.91m.

On her first attempt at 1.94m, Thiam had an uncharacteristic failure. This was brushed off by many a viewer as little more than a blip in her pursuit of higher heights. Her Liverpudlian rival also had her first failure of the competition at this height, although appeared to have the necessary elevation to clear the bar, with just a few minor adjustments needed.

Despite the crowd’s expectation of impending clearances for both athletes, the Belgian dislodged the bar yet again. Strangely though, instead of the standard sigh of disappointment, the crowd let out an exclamation of intrigue. There was a genuine sense in the stadium that this was Johnson Thompson’s chance to gain an edge over the woman who has been so dominant since the 2016 Olympic heptathlon.

Excitement grew. And with that support for the Brit. She took her run up and… just as before. It was evident that she had the capability to clear the height but she did not quite have the capacity to execute.

On their respective final attempts at the height, both athletes failed to demonstrate a level of belief prior to their jumps, which made their eventual failures all the less surprising.

This outcome pushed Johnson Thompson into first in the overall standings on 2193 points while Thiam sat in second with many of her stronger events still to come.

From a British perspective, it was somewhat frustrating to watch KJT not being able to capitalise when Nafi showed signs of weakness. For a neutral it was perhaps disappointing that neither athlete went higher, with both having achieved far more impressive results in a high jump. Nonetheless, with both the Belgian and Brit scoring the same on the second event, the seeds of an exciting head to head were planted.

The shot put portion of the heptathlon began proceedings on Thursday’s evening session. Being the event which has unravelled so many competitions for Johnson Thompson, the upper hand in the overall heptathlon still belonged to the Belgian due to her much stronger throwing ability.

However, the Briton was not weighed down by historical expectations and instead managed a put of 13.09m, her best ever in a heptathlon. The 733 points produced from this throw kept her firmly in the chase for the medals, with a growing sense of confidence to boot.

Thiam though, never being one to bow to pressure, achieved a new personal best in the shot put, with a throw of 15.35m, which more than made up for the previous two events which were disappointing by the Belgian’s high standards.

This marked the first point in the competition where Thiam had led the overall standings, and her mentality for multi-eventing shone through by not dwelling on what could have been in the previous events. Similarly, Johnson Thompson kept composed and showed signs that her move to Montpellier is working for her. By reducing the usual deficit in points in this event, the Liverpudlian ensured that she would not be entirely written off for the gold medal.

With Nafi at the head of standings, and Kat with the fastest 200m PB of the field, the margin between the two increasingly became the focal point of the competition. Nonetheless, the duo would not face off in the concluding event of the first day of the heptathlon, owing to the Belgian’s comparative weakness in the sprints. She would instead race in the third heat of the 200m, in which she would finish in fifth place with a time of 24.81, two tenths of a second down on her season’s best.

A door was opened for Kat. Going sub-23, as she had done numerous times before, would give her a workable lead over night. The gun sounded in the final heat. Kat gained a superior start over the rest of the field. The only athlete that was able to match her speed during the race was Louisa Grauvogel, the young German, but she wasn’t quite capable of matching the stamina of the Commonwealth champion. Kat stopped the clock in a highly commendable 22.88, while Grauvogel followed in a time of 23.10.

At the end of day one, Katarina Johnson Thompson was left with a workable lead over Thiam, having gained 4017 points to the Belgian’s 3930, third place was occupied by Carolin Schäfer with 3848. The overall winner was looking harder to predict, with each of the frontrunners being only a sub-par result away from handing the crown to the other.

KJT interviewed by The BackstraightBoys After Day  2

The fans returned to the Olympiastadion the following morning, and for the most part, gathered around the long jump pit in order to decipher the ever more intriguing heptathlon competition.

The long jump is the last event in a heptathlon in which Kat and Nafi are evenly matched, and so it is the last chance to see them compete on like for like terms before they each try to stop giving away too many points to their rival in the final two events.

Katarina opened proceedings with a jump of 6.44m, a distance similar to what she produced in the long jump at both the World Indoors and the Commonwealth Games. Well below her potential in the event, but it was a relief that she had a mark on the board, especially after her training partner, Kevin Mayer suffered three fouls in the decathlon long jump just days earlier. Nafi, being the next jumper in the start order managed to go one better than her opponent, quite literally, by jumping 6.45m in the first round.

Both athletes went on to foul in the second round, but managed to go further on their third attempts, with KJT leaping 6.68m, 2cm shy of her season’s best, while Nafi posted a jump of 6.60. The rest of the field were somewhat adrift of the two leaders in the long jump, with the third longest jump belonging to Hanne Maudens of Belgium at a distance of 6.42m.

This left Johnson Thompson 113 points ahead of the favourite after 5 events, and with the uncertainty over the Olympic champion’s form in the javelin, a gold medal did not seem out of reach for the British athlete.

As the women warmed up for the javelin it became clear that this was going to be where the title would be decided; if Thiam could produce a throw close to her personal best, she would be the overwhelming favourite for gold. If she were to throw as she had done in Götzis a few months earlier, she would hand the advantage over to her main competitor.

The Belgian was second to throw in the group. She took to the runway, released the javelin and… 46.36m. The crowd began to murmur. Nafi seemed to be facing the same difficulties she experienced in May. She may have had two attempts left, but her chances of a significant improvement did not look promising.

Another strong javelin thrower, Anouk Vetter, followed Thiam, and just like the Belgian threw well below her potential. Geraldine Ruckstuhl, on the other hand, launched the spear 55.66m down the field, indicating that the relatively poor throws from some of the athletes could not be attributed to the conditions.

Hopes were beginning to rise among the British fans as Johnson Thompson prepared for her opening throw. She obviously wasn’t going to throw further than her main rival, but she was still capable of producing something that was special by her own standards.

And perform she did.  With a throw of 42.16m, she surpassed her personal best dating back to 2015, while also keeping a applying a significant amount of pressure on Thiam.

If the javelin portion of the competition had ended at this point, Kat would have led Nafi in the overall standings by 32 points and the gold medal would have belonged to the Briton in all but writing, but Nafi has a mentality that is so well suited to multi-eventing; she doesn’t dwell on her disappointments and instead focuses on remedying the situation at hand, which is exactly what she did in Berlin.

On her second throw, the Belgian recorded a distance of 53.55m, comfortably a season’s best albeit someway short of the mindboggling marks she set in 2017. Her new mark would give her a cushion of approximately 7 seconds going into the 800m, a gap that could feasibly be overcome by Johnson Thompson over two laps, but one that still kept Nafi’s chances of gold alive.

As for the other competitors in the second round, Vetter improved to a distance of 50.08m while Ruckstuhl earned herself a new national U23 record in the javelin with an effort of 56.31m. Carolin Schäfer of Germany declined to take her two final throws of the competition after throwing a new personal best of 53.73m in the opening round.

Johnson Thompson’s second throw didn’t surpass her first round effort, but British fans were still feeling confident. The scores seemed to suggest a real tussle for the title in the final event, with both of the main contenders having to strain every sinew so as not to allow their opponent to finish with a higher total score. At least it looked that way until the Belgian’s final throw.

57.91m. That is what it took to clear away the doubts over Nafi’s form in the javelin. With just one, final throw, she had all but clinched the gold medal away from her rivals and made herself the heir apparent to the continental heptathlon throne.

The trend of improving with each attempt was also followed by Vetter, who increased her mark out to 51.25m, however Johnson Thompson was unable to improve on her new personal best, although she did succeed in sending the javelin beyond 41 metres on all three attempts for the first time in her career, showing considerable progress made in the throws since moving to Montpellier.

Johnson Thompson’s chances looked slim. Not only did she have to find a 14 second gap over Thiam, but she would have to do so alone, with other fast competitors over 800 metres absent from this race (Kriszán of Hungary was placed in the penultimate heat while Salman-Rath was absent from Berlin altogether, due to a knee operation undertaken in late 2017). Yet despite all of this, the Commonwealth champion looked unfazed when she stood at the start of the final event and this translated to her race. She confidently took the lead after the first bend and worked hard to build up a lead over the rest of the field.

Nafi, meanwhile, showed her confidence differently and took to the track at her comparatively slower pace, knowing that she only had to keep the Briton in her sights in order to secure the title.

At points of the race it looked as though Kat would do it, she opened a sizeable gap over the other competitors, yet despite clocking a highly respectable 2:09.84 over two laps, it wasn’t enough as the points leader was less than 10 seconds behind Kat, registering a time of 2:19.35, giving her an overall total of 6816, 6 points more than her Olympic winning score, but 7 points short of the championship record. Carolin Schäfer rounded out her series of events with a solid 800m that left her with the bronze medal and 50 points ahead of Ivona Dadic who scored a new national record over the seven events to finish fourth.

KJT interviewed by The Backstraight Boys After Day 2

It didn’t turn out to be the record breaking heptathlon that we might have hoped for, but it was one that hung in the balance until the final round of the penultimate event with the leader in the standings changing after almost every event.

Nafi took the title as expected, but she didn’t look as convincing as she has done in previous competitions, and certainly didn’t look unbeatable. Of course there was no real need for her to push herself in the 800m, but had a few events gone slightly differently, she would have found her dominance under considerable threat.

As for Katarina, she has much to be proud of: A new personal best, a third major medal of the season and another series of events without a disaster. She may have felt disappointed with her results in some events, but she followed up these disappointments with strong performances. Her progress in the throwing events should also fuel her confidence going forward while still allowing herself room to improve.

So what of the future? Thiam still seems to be the most likely candidate to take the European record in the heptathlon, but due to Johnson Thompson’s increasing consistency she will not be alone in the chase to surpass 7032 points. As for major medals, both have positioned themselves nicely with just two years before the Tokyo Olympics, but they will need to fight for position in the global top three, with Erica Bougard and Yorgelis Rodriguez being capable of posting scores in the same league as those produced in Berlin.

The heptathlon in Berlin showed a lot of promise for multi-event fans in the years to come. Whether we end up with astronomical scores or fierce fights for the medals, we certainly have something to look forward to.