Ratingen 2019: Preview
Lana-Götzis-Arona-Talence-Ratingen. We’re midway through the IAAF Combined Events Challenge, with the last of the individual European meetings this weekend in Ratingen, before the European Combined Events Cup takes place on 6-7 July in Lutsk, Ukraine (Super League) and Madeira, Portugal (First and Second Leagues). And the European Under 23 Championships decathlon also takes place on 13-14 July in Sweden, drawing in several of the decathletes who have competed in the Challenge so far – Niklas Kaul, Manuel Eitel, Risto Lillemets and Jean Baptiste Nutte – and who will not be in Ratingen.
Then the big competitions move across the Atlantic to the US Championships at the end of July, where Talence runner-up Zach Ziemek will compete, and then the Pan-American Championships in Peru in early August, where both Götzis winner Damian Warner and Talence champion Pierce LePage will represent Canada.
Back in Europe, several decathletes have already completed their early package of decathlons and are now stepping back to prepare for Doha, including Martin Roe, after competing in Lana, Götzis and Arona. Mathias Brugger started his season back in Lana alongside Roe, where he finished 3rd behind Jan Doležal and Kristjan Rosenberg. After finishing 11th in Götzis, Brugger has his 3rd decathlon this weekend in Ratingen. He is currently 5th on the 2019 German lists, and while he already has a mark of 8304 from 2018, he will be looking for a strong performance to secure a place in the German team for Doha. With one less decathlon under his belt, Kai Kazmirek will start as favourite this weekend on home soil. Likewise, Dominik Distelberger has his 2nd decathlon in Ratingen after his home performance in Götzis, in which – although he did not finish - one of the highlights was his PB-equalling 5m vault.
And in recent weeks the pole vault has been the eventful discipline in the decathlon, between Kai’s broken pole in Götzis, Pierce LePage’s 20cm improvement to 5.25m in Talence, and Ash Moloney’s spectacular canal-jump over 4.90m en route to a 40cm PB of 5 metres in Australia a few days ago. Fredriech Pretorius also joined the 5m club when he won with 7812 at the South African Championships in April, on the back of a new best in shot earlier in the season and new best in the discus earlier in the day, and he starts in Ratingen this weekend.
But who are we seeing for the first time on the circuit this year in Ratingen? Top of the list is Basile Rolnin, who finished 4th at the Ratingen meeting in 2017 and was anticipated to start in Talence but a late withdrawal. Rolnin has competed sparingly during the outdoor season but recorded a good shot and discus in France in June. Both Gael Querin and Darko Pešić have their first decathlons of the season, Gael having enjoyed an Ashton Eaton-esque jaunt over the 400m hurdles in Amiens in May, and Darko a suite of individual events and medals in Serbia and Montenegro.
The big names will not be able to relax for a moment, however, with a long list of young German combined eventers also competing in the meeting and taking the opportunity to achieve some big scores against the world-class competition in Ratingen.
Photo: Michel Fisquet, Team Photo Marseille