As the World Athletics Championships edge closer, all eyes turn to Budapest, the vibrant Hungarian capital set to stage the world's most accomplished athletes. Among the most anticipated events are the Heptathlon and Decathlon, where supreme versatility and endurance reign supreme. Here's a preview of what to expect from these two events and the superstars looking to etch their names in history.
Two-time Olympic and world champion Nafissatou Thiam has been forced to pull out of the World Championships in Budapest due to Achilles tendon injury following her win at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul, where she broke the world indoor record in the pentathlon with 5055 points.
Anna Hall will be aiming to win her first world outdoor medal one year after winning the bronze medal at the World Championships in Eugene. The 22-year-old added almost 300 points to her previous PB to score a total of 6755 points. Hall won the heptathlon competition at the Hypo Meeting in Goetzis with 6988 points moving up to fifth in the world all-time list. Last July Hall won her second heptathlon competition of the season at the US Championships in Eugene with 6677 points. Earlier this year Hall also won two US indoor titles in the pentathlon with the national record of 5004 points in Albuquerque and in the 400 metres with 51.03. Last June she improved her PB to 54.42 in the Diamond League in Florence.
Adrianna Sulek, European Indoor silver medallist in Istanbul, announced that she is pregnant and will miss the rest of the season.
Katarina Johnson Thompson from Great Britain was forced to withdraw from the heptathlon at the Olympic Games in Tokyo due to an injury problem. The British heptathlete returned to competitions to finish eight at the World Championships in Eugene a few weeks before winning the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. KJT finished second in Goetzis with 6556 points, her best score since she won the gold medal at the World Championships in Doha 2019 with the British record of 6955 points.
Anouk Vetter from the Netherlands won two silver medals behind Thiam at the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2021 and at the World Championships in Eugene 2022. However, Vetter has not completed a heptathlon competition this year. She contested the first day of the Hypo Meeting in Goetzis before dropping out of the competition due to an injury. Vetter set the national record of 6867 points at the World Championships in Eugene. She set seasonal best performances in the 100 metres hurdles of 13.35 and in the 200 metres of 23.71 showing her good form. The Dutch team will be also represented by Olympic bronze medallst Emma Oosterwegel and Sofie Dokter. Oosterwegel finished third at the Mehrkampfmeeting in Ratingen with 6209 points.
Dokter finished fourth at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul in the pentathlon with 4499 points and improved her PB to 6321 points in the heptathlon at the Hypo Meeting in Goetzis.
Reigning world indoor champion Noor Vidts will carry the hopes of Belgian fans for a medal despite the absence of Thiam. Vidts won the European Indoor bronze medal in the pentathlon in Istanbul with 4823 points. The Belgian specialist has not contested a full heptathlon competition, but she showed her good form recording a wind-assisted 13.35 in the 100 metres hurdles, 1.78m in the high jump, 2:11.78 in the 800 metres, 14.28m in the shot put.
German star Carolin Schaefer will be aiming to win her second world medal six years after finishing second in London 2017. She won the Mehrkampf meeting with 6369 points. The German team will be formed by Sophie Weissenberg (fifth in Goetzis with 6375 and second in Ratingen with 6247) and Vanessa Grimm (second at the Memorial Czapiewski in Bydgoszcz with 6058).
Annik Kaelin from Switzerland won the European bronze medal in Munich with a national record of 6515 points. Kaelin was sidelined by an injury problem but she recently set a seasonal best of 6.65m in the long jump in Bern.
Hungarian fans will cheer on Xenia Kriszan, who won the European indoor bronze medal in Torun 2021 and the Hypo Meeting in Goetzis with a national record of 6651 points later that year. She set her best score of 6372 points in a championship heptathlon at the 2022 European Championships in Munich.
World record holder and champion Kevin Mayer will clash against Olympic gold medallist Damian Warner, this year’s NCAA outdoor champion Leo Neugebauer and Pierce LePage.
Mayer won his second world title in the decathlon with 8816 points in Eugene and the European indoor gold medal in the heptathlon in Istanbul with 6348 points. The Frenchman has not contested a decathlon competition this season, but he competed in selected disciplines this year recording 13.70 in the 110 metres hurdles, 5.10m in the pole vault, 15.31m in the shot put and 47.39m in the discus throw.
Warner has fully recovered from an injury, which forced him to withdraw from the 400 metres at the 2022 World Championships in Eugene. The Canadian star finished second with 8619 behind his compatriot Pierce LePage at the Hypo Meeting in Goetzis. Warner won the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo 2021 with 9018 points and three medals (silver in Beijing 2015, bronze in two editions in Moscow 2013 and Doha 2019).
LePage won the silver medal with 8701 points at the World Championships in Eugene and won at the Hypo Meeting in Goetzis with 8700, missing his PB by just one point. LePage finished fifth at the World Championships in Doha 2019 with 8445 and at the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2021 with 8604.
Leo Neugebauer won the NCAA outdoor title in Austin with a world leading and collegiate record with 8836 for the University of Texas. Neugebauer broke the long-standing German record set by Norbert Hingsen with 8832 points in 1984. Neugebauer, whose father was a soccer player from Cameroon, set five individual PBs and improved his previous PB by more than 350 points. Neugebauer won the world under 18 bronze medal in Nairobi 2017 and finished 10th at the World Championships with 8182 points.
USA’s Kyle Garland finished second at the NCAA Championships behind Neugebauer with 8630. Garland holds a PB of 8720, the fourth best score of the entire field.
Nicklas Kaul from Germany won the world gold medal in Doha 2019 with 8691 and the European title in Munich 2022 with 8545, his best score since his world gold medal in Doha. Kaul started the 2023 season with a win in Ratingen with 8484 points, his best score outside of a championships.
The line-up features USA’s Zachery Ziemek, Puerto Rico’s Ayden Owens Delerme and Grenada’s Lindon Victor, who finished third, fourth and fifth at the World Championships. Ziemek improved his PB to 8676 points in Eugene and finished second at the US Championships in Eugene with 8508.
Owens Delerme improved his PB in the 400 metres with 45.07 en route to his fourth place with a national record of 8532 points at the World Championships. Owens Delerme set the national record in the 400 metres hurdles with 48.26 in Baton Rouge.
Victor placed fifth at the at the World Championships in Eugene with 8474 and improved his national record to 8550 points in Talence to win the World Athletics Combined Events Tour title in 2022. The Grenadan athlete finished seventh with 8293 points in Goetzis.
Sander Skotheim and Markus Rooth have the potential to fight for the podium. Skotheim won the silver medal at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul in the eptathlon with 6318 points, finishing just 30 points behind Mayer. The Norwegian placed third in Goetzis behind LePage and Warner with a national record of 8590 points.
Rooth won the European under 23 gold medal in Espoo improving the Norwegian record to 8608 beating Skotheim (8561).
Ashley Moloney is another medal candidate. The Australian athlete won the Olympic bronze medal with 8649 points and finished third at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade 2022 in the heptathlon with 6344.
The Estonian team will feature European bronze medallist Janek Oiglane, Karel Tilga, winner at the Multistars in Desenzano with 8482 and fourth in Goetzis with 8403, and Johannes Erm, national champion with 8424.