Olympic champion Damian Warner from Canada will be looking to extend his record to eight wins at the Hypo Meeting in Gotzis in his tenth appearance at this meeting.
Warner won his first Hypo Meeting title in 2013 with 8307 points and six consecutive editions in 2016 (8523), 2017 (8591), 2018 (8795), 2019 (8711), 2021 (8995) and 2022 (8797). He set meeting records in the 100 metres with 10.12 in 2019 and in the 110 metres with 13.36 in 2021. He held the previous world all-time best in the long jump for a decathlon competition with 8.28m in 2021. Warner won the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo 2021 with a national record of 9018 points becoming the fourth decathlete in history to surpass the 9000 points barrier after world record holder Kevin Mayer, Roman Sebrle and Thomas Dvorak. The Canadian star is a three-time world medallist (silver in Beijing 2015 with 8695, bronze in Moscow 2013 with 8512 and Doha 2019 with 8529).
Warner won the world indoor gold medal in the heptathlon in Belgrade 2022 setting the national record and the second best performance on the all-time list with 6489 points. The Canadian star will compete in his first decathlon competition since last July when he suffered from a harmstring strain during the 400 metres at the World Championships in Eugene.
Warner ran 48.07 in the 400 metres and threw 47.56 in the discus throw in his two tests in Baton Rouge last April in the build-up to Gotzis.
Warner and his coach Guy Leyshon think that the world record is within his reach.
“I think that I have the right events to make a challenge at the world record. It does not mean it’s going to be easy or you can set a date and say it’s going to happen here. I just believe that if I am healthy and I get the right circumstances, I can be capable of putting up a score that high. I am chasing my first world gold medal in Budapest. It’s obviously something that I am trying to push myself for every day”, said Warner.
Since last autumn he has been training with Nicholas Mechler, a 26-year-old Canadian decathlete, who will compete in Gotzis for the first time this weekend. Mechler holds a PB of 7722 points.
Warner’s compatriot Pierce LePage will make his fourth appearance at the Hypo Meeting. LePage placed second behind Warner in Gotzis in 2021 with 8534 and won the world silver medal in Eugene with his lifetime best of 8701 points. He also won the Commonwealth silver medal in Gold Coast 2018 and finished fifth at both the 2019 World Championships in Doha with 8445 and at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo with 8604. At World Athletics Combined Events Tour level he won in Talence with 8453.
Simon Ehammer from Switzerland won the Mehrkampf meeting in Ratingen with 8364, finished third at the Hypo meeting in Gotzis with 8377 and second at the European Championships in Munich with a national record of 8468 in his three decathlon competitions last year. During the 2022 season Ehammer also won the world indoor silver medal in the heptathlon behind Warner with a national record of 6363 points in Belgrade, the world outdoor bronze medal in the long jump with 8.16m in Eugene
The Swiss decathlete broke Warner’s world decathlon all-time best in the long jump with 8.30m in Ratingen in 2022 and improved this mark to 8.45m at last year’s edition of the Hypo meeting.
Ehammer won the Aubière indoor meeting in the heptathlon with 6292, but he made three fouls in the long jump during the heptathlon competition at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul. He started his 2023 outdoor season with 8.12m in the long jump and a PB of 13.43 in the 110 metres hurdles in Basel on 13 May.
The Swiss contingent will be also represented by Finley Gaio, who finished fifth in the 110 metres hurdles final at the European Championships in Munich last year and set a decathlon PB of 7949 in Gotzis last year. Gaio holds good PBs in the running events like 10.43 in the 100 metres, 13.46 in the 110 metres hurdles,47.08 in the 400 metres and 7.77m in the long jump.
Lindon Victor from Grenada finished second in Gotzis last year with 8447 and finished fifth at the World Championships in Eugene with 8474. He went on to win the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and the Decastar in Talence setting a national record of 8550. Victor crowned a very consistent season with the win in the 2022 World Athletics Combined Events Tour. Victor set his javelin throw PB of 71.56m in his favourite event en route to his seventh place at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Victor is a good thrower with PBs of 16.52 in the shot put and 55.87m in the discus throw. He set his PB of 10,56 in the 100m in Gotzis 2019. His brother Kurt Felix is also an international decathlete.
Australia’s Ashleigh Moloney won the bronze medal at the 2021 Olympic Games with an Oceanian record of 8649 points becoming the first Australian decathlete to reach the Olympic podium. He made a major breakthrough at the World Under 20 Championships in Tampere 2018, when he won the gold medal breaking the championships record previously held by Nicklas Kaul. Last year he claimed the bronze medal at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade 2022 with another area record of 6344 points, the highest third place tally for an heptathlon competition. The Australian team will be also represented by Moloney’s training partner Cedric Dubler, who won the bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham with 8030 and finished eighth at the World Championships in Eugene with 8246.
Sander Skotheim from Norway will make his debut in Gotzis after a very successful winter season highlighted by his European Indoor silver medal in the heptathlon with a national indoor record of 6318 after clearing a PB of 2.19m in the high jump. Skotheim won the European Under 20 silver medal in Tallin 2021 and set his decathlon PB of 8298 to finish second to his compatriot Markus Rooth at the Multistars in Grosseto in 2022.
Karel Tilga from Estonia will compete in his second decathlon competition in one month after taking the win at the Multistars in Desenzano del Garda with a meeting record of 8482 points. Tilga made his breakthrough in 2017 when he won the European Under 20 bronze medal in Grosseto in the competition where Nicklas Kaul broke the world under 20 record. He won the heptathlon title at the NCAA Indoor Championships with 6264 points setting the second best all-time collegiate competition. He scored a near 400 point-improvement on his decathlon lifetime best at the Specs Town Invitational in Athens beating Garrett Scantling by just 8 points. He completed the double of NCAA titles by winning the collegiate outdoor championships in 2021 with 8261 in Eugene.
The rising star to watch is Jente Hauttekeete, who won the gold medal at the European Under 20 Championships in Tallin with 8150 and placed second at the World Under 20 Championships in Nairobi with 8053 in 2021. The Belgian team also features Niels Pittomvils, seventh at the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade 2017.
Devon Williams, brother of heptathlon specialist Kendell Williams, will compete in his second decathlon competition this year after finishing third in Desenzano. Williams won the US decathlon title in 2019 with 8295 points and the NCAA Indoor heptathlon title in 2017 with 6177 points.
Pawel Wiesolek won the bronze medal with 6133 points at the European Indoor Championships in Torun in 2021.
Fredrick Samuelsson placed fourth at the European Indoor Championships in 2019 and set his decathlon PB of 8172 in Gotzis in 2017.
An interesting athlete to watch is Andrey Kopecky, who finished sixth at the European indoor Championships in Istanbul 2023 and set a PB of 8310 in Prague. Kopecki is coached by Roman Sebrle, who broke the world record in Gotzis in 2001 with 9026 points.
The German team is represented by Manuel Eitel and Tim Nowak, who finished fourth and seventh at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul 2023.
Twenty athletes lining up in Gotzis have a PB of over 8000 points.
Women’s heptathlon preview
Anouk Vetter became the first Dutch winner in the women’s heptathlon in the history of the Hypo Meeting last year with a score of 6693, adding four points to the Dutch record she set at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, where she won the silver medal. In the 2022 edition of the Gotzis meeting Vetter broke Nafissatou Thiam’s meeting record in the javelin with a sensational throw of 59.81m. Vetter went on to win the world silver medal in Eugene with another national record of 6867 points five years after her bronze medal at the 2017 World Championships in London. Vetter started her athletics career at a very young age. Her father Roland Vetter is a long standing coach. Her mother Gerda Vetter was a two-time javelin champion.
The strong Dutch contingent also features Emma Oosterwegel, Olympic bronze medallist in Tokyo with 6590, seventh at the World Championships in Eugene with 6440, Sofie Dokter and Marijike Esselink, who finished fourth and tenth respectively at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul 2023.
Adrianna Sulek from Poland returns to Gotzis where she improved her PB to 6429 points to finish second last year. The Polish combined events specialist won the World under 20 bronze medal in Tampere 2018 and the European under 23 title in Tallin 2021. She won the world indoor silver medal with 4851 points at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade and improved the Polish record to 6672 points to finish fourth at the World Championships in Eugene.
Sulek won the silver medal at the European Championships in Munich with 6532. She exceeded the 6400 points barrier in four heptathlon competitions and won the World Athletics Combined Events Tour in 2022. She started the 2023 season with a silver medal at the European Indoor Championships in the pentathlon in Istanbul with 5014 points. She was a student of Journalism and Social Communication at the Marie Curie University in Lublin.
Anna Hall will make her debut in Gotzis. The 22-year-old US star won the world bronze medal in Eugene 2022 becoming the third best heptathlete in US athletics history with her PB of 6755 points. She set a PB of 54.48 in the 400 metres hurdles in the semifinal of the NCAA Championships in Eugene last year. She is the only woman to break 6700 points in the heptathlon and run under 55 seconds in the 400 metres hurdles.
This year Hall broke Brianne Theisen Eaton’s North American record with 5004 points in the pentathlon at the US Indoor Championships in Albuquerque. At the same championships she later won the US Indoor title in the 400 metres clocking a PB of 51.03. She grew up in an athletics family near Denver in Colorado. Her father David was a quarter back on the American team, played basketball and competed in the decathlon.
USA’s Taliyah Brooks set the world leading mark of 6330 when she won the Multistars in Desenzano del Garda. Her performance in the Italian meeting was highlighted by a leap of 6.65m in the long jump. Brooks holds PBs of 6.78m in the long jump and 12.61 in the 100m hurdles and won the NCAA Indoor title in the pentathlon with 4572 in 2018 for the University of Arkansas.
The other top US heptathlete is Annie Kunz, who won the US Olympic Trials in 2021 with her PB of 6703 and finished sixth at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
British combined events star Katarina Johnson Thompson will return to the Moesle Stadium, where she won twice at the Austrian meeting in 2014 with 6682 and in 2019 with her previous PB of 6813. KJT improved Jessica Ennis Hill’s national record when she won the world title in Doha with 6981. Last summer she won her second consecutive gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in front of her home fans with 6377 in her most recent heptathlon competition. She clocked 13.73 in the 100m hurdles and 13.13m in the shot put in her final test last weekend and ran a leg of the 4x400 relay at the Loughbourough International Athletics event.
Great Britain will be also represented by Jade O’Dowda, Holly Mills and Niamh Emerson. O’Dowda won the bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham with 6212. O’Dowda finished second in Desenzano del Garda with 6178 this year.
Mills finished fourth at both the World Indoor Championships in the pentathlon with her PB of 4673 points and at the Commonwealth Games in the heptathlon in Birmingham with 6095 and sixth at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul 2023 with 4451.
Emerson won the world under 20 gold medal in Tampere 2018 with 6253 and the European Indoor silver in the pentathlon in Glasgow with her lifetime best of 4731.
Nafissatou Thiam will not compete in any heptathlon competition before the World Championships in Budapest, but Belgium has a good chance for a top-three spot with Noor Vidts, who claimed the world indoor gold medal in the pentathlon with 4929 and finished third at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul 2023 with 4823 and fourth at the Olympic Games in the heptathlon with 6571.
Xenia Krizsan from Hungary has a fond memory of Gotzis, as she won this meeting in 2021 with a national record of 6651. She finished fifth at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul with 4493.
German star Carolin Schaefer also returns to Gotzis, where she finished second in 2015, in 2017 with her lifetime best of 6836 and third in 2016. Schaefer won the world silver medal in London 2017 and the European bronze medal in Berlin 2018. The German contingent also includes Vanessa Grimm, third in last year’s edition of the Hypo meeting in Gotzis with her lifetime best of 6323, and former European Under 23 silver medallist Sophie Weissenberg, who set her PB of 6293 points in Gotzis 2019. Weissenberg’s mother Heike Tischler won the European silver medal in 1990.
The rising star to watch is Saga Vanninen from Finland, who won two world under 20 gold medals in Nairobi 2021 and Cali 2022 and the European under 20 title in Tallin 2021 with her lifetime best of 6271.
The other athletes with a PB over 6200 are Georgia Ellenwood from Canada, NCAA champion in 2018, Adriana Rodriguez from Cuba, world under 20 silver medallist in Bydgoszcz 2016, three-time national champion Maria Huntington from Finland and Paulina Ligarska from Poland, seventh at the European Indoor Championships in Torun 2021.
The Austrian hopes are carried by 2016 world under 20 gold medallist Sara Lagger and 2018 European Under 18 bronze medallist Chiara Belinda Schuler.
Twenty-one athletes with a PB over 6000 points are entered in the women’s heptathlon.