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Combined events drama continues

Norman Müller
(Foto: Gantenberg)
[15.07.2005] The drama in the men's decathlon sharpened intensely with the sixth event, the 110m hurdles. Norman Müller (GER), who electrified the crowd with his splendid 400m run at the end of yesterday's program, continued his assault with a 14.73 clocking over the barriers. It was just short of his all-time best of 14.69, but more importantly it brought the 19-year-old into a tie with the previous leader, Aleksey Sysoyev (RUS), who himself pushed back personal frontiers with a PB 14.84 time.

The two athletes found themselves with the same six event 5103 point total, although Sysoyev would have the advantage using tie-breaking rules, having won two events to Müller's single victory.

Aleksey Drozdov (RUS) remained in third place with 5036, 67 points behind the Sysoyev-Müller juggernaut, after a PB 14.86 in the hurdles.

Aleksey Drozdov
(Foto: Gantenberg)

Lassi Raunio (FIN) moved into a distant fourth place at 4895 on the strength of a 14.34 time, the day's fastest.

With the discus event - number seven of the ten - began the separation of the top athletes. Although Müller threw a PB 40.99, it was a meek effort compared with those from the Russians. Sysoyev's 51.73 and Drozdov's 49.10 were the top two performances, and with that, much space started to appear among the top three. Sysoyev's 6009 after seven events is 121 points ahead of Drozdov's runner-up 5888 total.

Müller meanwhile seems in good position in the medal chase at 5788, as Raunio's 42.19 throw kept him in fourth, 184 points behind the Bronze position.

Although Laurien Hoos (NED) saw her first day lead in the women's heptathlon trimmed somewhat after the long jump, she still appears to be in control. The Dutch athlete jumped a PB 6.04 (after dangerously starting with two fouls) for a five event total of 4635. Replacing her teammate, Jolanda Keizer, in the runner-up spot was Olga Levenkova (RUS), who posted the session's best performance with 6.23 for an aggregate 4419.

Laurien Hoss
(Foto: Gantenberg)

Lilli Schwarzkopf (GER) and Viktorija Žemaityte (LTU) moved tightly into the next places with jumps of 6.12 and 6.18, respectively. The German holds a slim two point advantage over her Lithuanian rival, 4396 to 4394, in the battle for the final medal.

In second place at the end of the first day, Keizer slid to fifth with 4329 after a 5.83 long jump performance.

The men's high jump is one of the most highly anticipated events of the weekend with its great depth of quality - five of the competitors have this season achieved the World Championships A standard of 2.30m or higher. None of the elite jumpers disappointed as 14 achieved the automatic qualifying height of 2.21.

Three of the jumpers had a perfect slate for the day, including the U23 list leader, Michal Bieniek (POL). Russians Andrey Silnov and Aleksandr Shustov, the latter with a PB 2.21, were the others with unblemished records.

Yuriy Krimarenko (UKR) - with a 2.33 best this year - barely survived at 2.18 with a third attempt clearance, and he needed two at 2.21 to advance.

Olympic Bronze medallist Jaroslav Bába (CZE) used minimalist tactics to earn his place in the final. Opening at 2.15, he alone passed 2.18 before needing two attempts at 2.21 to qualify. Aleksey Dmitrik (RUS) and Linus Thörnblad (SWE) were the remaining jumpers at 2.30 or higher this season who will be part of Sunday's final.

With Ladji Doucouré (FRA) passing this weekend's competition, the top two positions on the men's 110 hurdles year list were occupied by Germans. One of them, Willi Mathiszik, easily qualified with his 13.75 heat win, while the reigning European Junior Bronze medallist, Kai Doskoczynski - on his 21st birthday - found his 14.01 time insufficient for advancement to Sunday's final.

Maksim Lynsha (BLR) had the day's fastest performance with 13.70, though aided by a +2.3m/s wind. David Hughes (GBR), the third ranked competitor on the season list, was right behind with 13.73. Bano Traore (FRA), the current European Junior champion, took one of the two time qualification spots in the same heat with 13.82.

The third heat was won in 14.01 by Andreas Kundert (GER), the European Junior Silver medallist two years ago.

The fastest time in the women's 100 hurdles heats came in the race with the strongest headwind, as Mirjam Liimask (EST) fought against a 1.8m/s breeze but still managed a 13.24 clocking. Season U23 leader Tina Klein (GER), a former World Junior Bronze medallist, was virtually as fast with her 13.25 heat win.

The remaining heat was won by Anna Yevdokimova (RUS) in 13.31.

Others ranking high on the U23 list and advancing were Germans Judith Ritz and Carolin Nytra with 13.42 and 13.46, respectively, as well as Marie Elisabeth Maurer (AUT) with 13.38.

The most notable exit was by Sabrina Altermatt (SUI), last year's World Junior Silver medallist, whose 13.60 left her out of the final eight.

The qualification in the women's 400m hurdles was dominated by year leader Yelena Ildeykina (RUS), although her two teammates, Anastasiya Trifonova and Yuliya Mulyukova, also advanced with respective 57.80 and 58.30 runs. Only Sian Scott (GBR) was able to break through the Russian phalanx with a 58.17 clocking.

Of special note was the 58.47 PB performance of Dora Jemaa (FRA) which earned her a place in Sunday's final. It came only 35 minutes after she ran a non-qualifying 13.65 in the 100 hurdles.

The only non-qualifier of note was Anastasiya Rabchenyuk (UKR), a finalist in Bydgoszcz in 2003, who was disqualified for a trailing leg violation.

A strong 50.34 effort by reigning European Junior champion Rhys Williams (GBR) produced the top time in the men's 400m hurdles heats. The event's top competitor for the year, Minás Alozídis (GRE) was also a heat winner in 50.68. The number two U23 European this year, Ákos Dezsö (HUN), won the remaining heat easily in 51.01.

Former World Junior finalist Jussi Heikkilä (FIN) with 50.79 and Yves N'Dabian (FRA) at 50.92 were the remaining qualifiers to run under 51 seconds.

This proved to be one of the least disastrous qualifying rounds thus far, as all eight finalists were ranked in the top ten before the start of competition.

The morning session concluded with the men's long jump qualifying, which saw only Bydgoszcz Bronze medallist Danut Simion (ROM) able to solve the dancing winds for a jump over eight metres. His season best 8.03, coming on his only jump, was 21 centimetres farther than the 7.82 PB of TomᚠPour (CZE).

The year's top U23 long jumper, Povilas Mykolaitis (LTU) was the only other competitor to surpass the automatic 7.75 qualifying distance with 7.78.

Following the trend established by the men's 400 hurdles and the men's high jump, the yearly statistical list proved to be a good predictor of the event's finalists, as only one of the season's top ten failed to advance. Fabien Faucher (FRA) saw his 7.48 best fall just three centimetres short of qualifying.