Jessica Ennis breaks Denise Lewis’s national heptathlon record at the Hypo Meeting in Austria
With a superb all-round performance on day two of the Hypo Meeting in the Austrian town of Götzis, Jessica Ennis smashed Denise Lewis’s UK heptathlon record with a score of 6906, finally achieving one of her big career goals.
Ennis had led overnight, but world champion Tatyana Chernova, who is always strong on the second day, was within touching distance.
It was a similar scenario in Daegu at the World Championships last year, where Ennis faltered in the javelin while Chernova excelled to win gold. But this time, Ennis made sure there was no such repeat.
She started the weekend in the 100m hurdles, clearing the 10 barriers – one more than in Manchester last weekend – in 12.81 seconds, her fastest ever run within a heptathlon and just 0.02 outside her personal best.
Then came the high jump, her only blip of the entire competition, where she managed to clear just 1.85m – her lowest jump for four years and 10 centimetres below her UK record. Unfortunately for her, it was one of the events in which a lot of points can be won or lost, and three athletes managed to jump 1.91m – worth 78 points more than Ennis’s mark.
One of those athletes was world indoor bronze medallist Austra Skujyte of Lithuania, who went on to produce the best mark of the day in the shot with 16.49m and held the temporary lead at the end of the third event.
Ennis held her own in the shot and threw 14.51m, her best throw in a combined events competition outside of a major championship.
Drawn in the same 200m heat as young Dutch speedster Dafne Schippers, who won in a stunning 22.73, Ennis was dragged through to a time of 22.88, smashing her lifetime best by 0.22. It is inside the Olympic A standard for that event and puts her at 16th on the UK all-time list.
But Chernova was also in PB form, clocking 23.49. Earlier in the day she was just outside her PB in the 100m hurdles with 13.34, high jumped 1.82m and threw 13.75m in the shot.
Ennis held the overnight lead with 4113 while Chernova was in third with 3884. The UK record was definitely within Ennis’s sights, but she had been in a similar position several times before and had never quite bettered the 6831 set by Lewis in 2000, the year in which she won the Olympic title.
But this weekend saw Ennis put together her best ever series of marks on day two of a heptathlon. The day started with a 6.51m leap in the long jump, equalling her PB. Not only did it better the 6.44m achieved by Chernova, but it was the best long jump mark of the day.
Ennis – who over the winter has been working with former world bronze medallist Mick Hill – continued her PB form in the javelin and launched the spear out to 47.11, breaking her previous lifetime best by 40cm.
Chernova responded with 53.21 – her best throw for four years – but by now Ennis was heading for a guaranteed victory, and the British record.
Ennis duly delivered in the final event of the weekend, the 800m, and she clocked a time of 2:09.00, bringing her points tally to 6906. That performance – the best in the world since 2007 – moves Ennis to eighth on the world all-time list.
Chernova, who clocked 2:08.94 in the 800m, ended with a score of 6774, her second-best ever score. Ukraine’s Lyudmila Yosypenko was third with a PB of 6501, while Skujye was fourth with 6493, breaking the PB she set eight years ago at the Athens Olympics. Schippers added 200 points to her lifetime best with 6360 for seventh place.
Olympic and world indoor champion Nataliya Dobrynska finished ninth with a score of 6311, but the Ukrainian has missed a lot of training since breaking the world indoor pentathlon record, as her husband and coach recently passed away.
For the first time ever in a heptathlon competition, 14 women broke 6200 points, 20 broke 6100 with a further two breaking 6000.
With the national record now under her belt, Ennis only has one big remaining career goal – but she has another ten weeks to wait before she can tick that one off the list.
Unlike the heptathlon, the men’s decathlon competition in Götzis was missing many of the big hitters in the event, such as two-time world champion Trey Hardee and world indoor heptathlon record-holder Ashton Eaton.
In their absence, Hans van Alphen smashed his own Belgian record to win with 8519, snatching the victory from Eelco Sintnicolaas of the Netherlands who led going into the final event. The European silver medallist had to settle for second with 8507, but can at least find some consolation in the fact he broke the Dutch national record.
German duo Pascal Behrenbruch (8433) and Rico Freimuth (8322) finished ahead of world bronze medallist Leonel Suarez of Cuba (8289).
Britain’s Ashley Bryant fell just short of the Olympic B standard, but was rewarded nonetheless with a PB of 7837 in 12th place.
Meanwhile, over in Tenerife at the Arona Combined Events competition, Daniel Awde became just the fourth British man in history to score more than 8000 points in the decathlon, winning with 8102.