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UK Athletics

Combined Events International report

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2 February 2006



England Athletics Combined Events Indoors silver medallist Kevin Sempers (Belgrave Harriers) was in a super second place at the close of the opening day of Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s combined events international against Czech Republic, France and Spain at the EIS Sheffield today.


Sempers, who finished ninth in this match 12 months ago, led overall after three events, having finished second in the quicker 60m heat in a lifetime best of 6.99 seconds (for 886 points), followed with his furthest-yet long jump of 7.18m (857 points), and put the shot 12.90m (661 points).


But a monster high jump of 2.19m (982 points) by Stanislav Sajdok hoisted the Czech Republic athlete into the lead with 3,330 points after four events. Even so, Sempers’ clearance of 2.01m (813 points) left him second overall on 3,217 points.


England Athletics Combined Events Indoors Champion Ed Dunford (Birchfield Harriers) found himself dumped to 16th and last place in the heptathlon competition after two events. Left at the start of his 60m heat, he powered through to fourth place in a respectable time of 7.15 seconds for 830 points. But he was still contemplating lost points when the long jump began and his only legal effort measured a meagre 5.72m (527 points).


However the 24-year-old, who achieved a Beijing Olympics B-qualifying standard at the UK Challenge Combined Events Final last autumn and is in heavy training to aim at the A-standard early in the summer, got instantly back into the groove in the shot. He won with a personal best of 14.95m to add 787 points to his total. And he ended the first day by high jumping 2.01m (813 points) to climb to 11th overall on 2,957 points.


Louis Evling-Jones (Belgrave Harriers), bronze medallist at this winter’s England Championships and the 2006 Champion, was sixth overall with 3,055 points. He was third in his 60m heat in 7.12 seconds (840 points), long jumped 6.99m (811 points), put the shot 12.65m (646 points) and high jumped 1.95m (758 points).


Under 23 Oliver McNeillis (Birchfield Harriers) was 10th overnight on 2,960 points. He won the opening 60m heat in 7.05 seconds (865 points), long jumped 7.21m (864 points), achieved two shot PBs, 10.44m and 10.67m (526 points) and high jumped 1.89m (705 points).


Their efforts meant that the home team ended the opening day only 81 points behind the leaders. Points: 1 Czech Republic 9,303; 2 Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland 9,232; 3 Spain 9,122; 4 France 9,011.


Pre-match, all the drama surrounded the Spanish team. Some of their kit failed to arrive on their flight to Manchester so meeting director Kate Channon and her UK Athletics colleague Rob Logan liased with Northern Athletics team manager Sandra White to provide them with vests and shorts, and took the athletes shopping for spikes.


The third event, the shot competition, was delayed by 15 minutes so that they could be reunited with their national kit, which had finally arrived in Manchester and been rushed over the Pennines.


Vividly illustrating the importance of the match in development terms, Tomas Dvorak, who stands second to his compatriot Roman Sebrle on the world all-time decathlon list, proved a vociferous member of the Czech management as the day’s drama unfolded.