World Indoors pentathlon shaping up to be epic clash

Fantastic four-way battle in store in Istanbul next week as Jessica Ennis takes on Tatyana Chernova, Natalia Dobrynska and Yekaterina Bolshova

Ennis-Chernova

The heptathlon at last year’s IAAF World Championships had many fans – particularly British and Russian athletics followers – on the edge of their seats. The competition unfolded in to a battle royale between Jessica Ennis and Tatyana Chernova, but some minor blips proved to be Ennis’s undoing as Chernova produced the series of her life to scoop the gold medal.

Thought that competition was exciting? The pentathlon at next week’s IAAF World Indoor Championships could be even more enthralling for several reasons. The five events for indoor pentathlons are all held on the same day, so the competition is more intense. With fewer events than the outdoor heptathlon, there is also less room for error.

But the main reason for the added excitement at the World Indoors pentathlon is because there are four women who not only have a genuine shot of gold, but who could all seriously threaten the world indoor record of 4991.

That mark has stood to Russia’s Irina Belova for 20 years, but is looking more and more fragile with each major indoor championship. Swedish star Carolina Kluft threatened it several times when winning world indoor gold in 2003 (4933) and European indoor golds in 2005 (4948) and 2007 (4944). On the latter occasion, Britain’s Kelly Sotherton also came close with her 4927.

Sotherton’s performance lasted just three years as a British record as Ennis bettered it when winning the 2010 world indoor gold with 4937, moving to No.3 on the all-time list.

But despite all the near-misses, the world record remains in tact. East Germany’s Anke Behmer scored 4995 on an oversized track in 1988, but even so the 5000-point barrier has not yet been broken. Could this be the year it goes?

The eight women set to compete in the pentathlon at the World Indoors was today announced by the IAAF. Here’s a run-down of the top four contenders.

Jessica Ennis

The defending champion
The Briton is looking to hold on to the title she won in Doha two years ago, when she broke the championship record with her 4937 PB. Her confidence will be sky-high too, having had the best possible send off in her last competition before travelling to Istanbul. At the Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix, Ennis set a world-leading mark of 7.87 in the 60m hurdles and set an indoor PB of 6.47m in the long jump.

Having won 2009 world gold, 2010 world indoor gold and 2010 European gold, Ennis’s winning streak came to an end in Daegu last year, so she will be keen to get back to winning ways ahead of the London 2012 Olympics. But in Daegu, the pressure from Chernova proved to be Ennis’s undoing and the standard in Istanbul will be even tougher, so Ennis knows she will have to work hard and keep her focus to come out on top. One of Britain’s best bets for gold in Istanbul, could Ennis be the first British athlete since Ashia Hansen in 1998 to set a world indoor record?

Tatyana Chernova

The world champion
The winning performance in Daegu from the Russian came as a surprise to many, but Chernova has long been one of the world’s most talented combined eventers. Her first global title came at the age of 17 at the 2005 World Youth Championships, followed by World Junior gold one year later. While still a junior, in 2007 she scored an incredible 6768 in the heptathlon – a mark that would have smashed Carolina Kluft’s world junior record had it not been for the wind assistance.

After winning Olympic bronze in 2008, Chernova was off colour in 2009 and was again out of the medals at the 2010 European Championships, but rebounded in Daegu last year with her best ever score of 6880. The javelin is one of her strongest events, but despite that not being part of the indoor pentathlon (for obvious reasons), Chernova is still a threat indoors and won bronze at the last World Indoors in 2010. She has started the year in great form too, with a huge PB of 8.02 in the 60m hurdles. What used to be a weakness has now become a major strength and she will once again push Ennis all the way.

Natalia Dobrynska

The Olympic champion
Ever since her surprise Olympic gold in 2008, Dobrynska has always a formidable figure on the international heptathlon scene. She surrendered to Ennis at the 2009 World Championships, but then returned in 2010 in the form of her life. But despite setting PBs of 4851 at the World Indoors and 6778 at the European Championships that year, she had to settle for second place behind Ennis on both occasions.

Continuing her trend of peaking every two years, Dobrynska has once again emerged this winter in the form of her life, breaking her own Ukrainian indoor pentathlon record with 4880. She often produces her best at major championships, so she could well improve on that mark in Istanbul. She may be trailing after the first two events, but look for her to bank big points in the shot where she has been known to throw farther than 17 metres.

Yekaterina Bolshova

The newcomer
If anyone could spoil the party of The Big Three, it could be underdog Bolshova. Before this year, no one would have predicted that the 5738 heptathlete would be in contention to win a global title, challening the likes of Ennis, Chernova and Dobrynska, but the Russian has evidently wintered well and finds herself at the top of this year’s world lists.

At the start of the year she obliterated all of her PBs en route to a pentathlon PB of 4745. One month later she improved further in all five events to score 4896 – a mark that puts her at No.5 on the world indoor all-time list. Bolshova has never competed in a global combined events competition, so it’s difficult to say how she’ll fare on her World Indoors debut. But sometimes it is the unknown athletes who carry little pressure that can cause the biggest surprises. And if her upward progression continues, she could well find herself within the medals.

The stats…

PERSONAL BESTS
60H HJ SP LJ 800 Total
Ennis
(PB: 4937)
7.87
(1160)
1.94m
(1158)
14.61m
(835)
6.47m
(997)
2:12.55
(928)
5078
Chernova
(PB: 4855)
8.02
(1125)
1.86m
(1054)
14.54m
(830)
6.72m
(1079)
2:10.10
(963)
5051
Dobrynska
(PB: 4880)
8.33
(1055)
1.85m
(1041)
17.18m
(1008)
6.49m
(1004)
2:14.85
(895)
5003
Bolshova
(PB: 4896)
8.41
(1037)
1.92m
(1132)
13.79m
(780)
6.45m
(991)
2:10.60
(956)
4896
BESTS WITHIN A PENTATHLON
60H HJ SP LJ 800 Total
Chernova 8.22
(1079)
1.86m
(1054)
14.54m
(830)
6.72m
(1079)
2:10.10
(963)
 5005
Dobrynska 8.33
(1055)
1.85m
(1041)
17.18m
(1008)
6.43m
(985)
2:14.85
(895)
 4984
Ennis 8.04
(1120)
1.91m
(1119)
14.01m
(795)
6.44m
(988)
2:12.55
(928)
 4950
Bolshova 8.41
(1037)
1.92m
(1132)
13.79m
(780)
6.45m
(991)
2:10.60
(956)
4896
SEASON’S BESTS
60H HJ SP LJ 800 Total
Ennis 7.87
(1160)
1.91m
(1119)
14.09m
(800)
6.47m
(997)
2:12.55*
(928)
5004
Chernova 8.02
(1125)
1.86m*
(1054)
14.54m*
(830)
6.61m
(1043)
2:12.70*
(925)
4977
Bolshova 8.41
(1037)
1.92m
(1132)
13.79m
(780)
6.45m
(991)
2:10.60
(956)
4896
Dobrynska 8.35
(1050)
1.84m
(1029)
16.46m
(959)
6.41m
(978)
2:15.90
(880)
4896
*Not contested this year. Most recent SB used instead.

World all-time top 10

1. 4991 Irina Belova (RUS) Berlin, 1992
(8.22, 1.93m, 13.25m, 6.67m, 2:10.26)

2. 4948 Carolina Klüft (SWE) Madrid, 2005
(8.19, 1.93m, 13.29m, 6.65m, 2:13.47)

3. 4937 Jessica Ennis (GBR) Doha, 2010
(8.04, 1.90m, 14.01m, 6.44m, 2:12.55)

4. 4927 Kelly Sotherton (GBR) Birmingham, 2007
(8.23, 1.88m, 14.57m, 6.51m, 2:12.54)

5. 4896 Yekaterina Bolshova (RUS) Moscow, 2012
(8.41, 1.92m, 13.79m, 6.45m, 2:10.60)

6. 4880 Natalia Dobrynska (UKR) Sumy, 2012
(8.35, 1.84m, 16.46m, 6.36m, 2:15.90)

7. 4877 Tia Hellebaut (BEL) Gent, 2007
(8.34, 1.96m, 13.62m, 6.42m, 2:15.13)

8. 4866 Svetlana Moskalets (RUS) Chelyabinsk,1995
(8.11, 1.86m, 14.30m, 6.65m, 2:18.95)

9. 4855 Tatyana Chernova (RUS) Penza, 2010
(8.38, 1.86m, 13.38m, 6.72m, 2:12.70)

10. 4850 Natallia Sazanovich (BLR) Lisbon, 2001
(8.25, 1.80m, 16.31m, 6.69m, 2:23.20)

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