Ruckstuhl ready to shine in Tallinn

Géraldine Ruckstuhl at the Cali 2015 IAAF World U18 Championships
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Géraldine Ruckstuhl at the Cali 2015 IAAF World U18 Championships

Géraldine Ruckstuhl is having the season of her life, and it might not have even really started yet.

A month ago at the famous multi-events meeting in Götzis, Ruckstuhl, 19, broke the Swiss national heptathlon record with 6291 points, setting seven individual personal bests.

Now more success beckons – both this weekend and then in the middle of July – as Ruckstuhl looks to show she is the best young heptathlete in the world.

On Saturday and Sunday, the 2015 world youth champion will spearhead Switzerland’s bid for glory in the Super League of the European Athletics Combined Events Team Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, ahead of her individual charge for gold at the European Athletics U20 Championships in the Italian town Grosseto.

The senior stage is proving anything but daunting for Ruckstuhl, who will enter this weekend’s heptathlon competition with the best score this season among her rivals and no doubt determined to do even better than just a few weeks ago in Austria.

Her score of 6291 broke Corinne Schneider’s Swiss national record by 26 points, a mark that had stood since 1985 and within tally that came a second national record when Ruckstuhl threw the javelin 58.31m.

It was some weekend, with her first day personal bests being 13.96 for the 100m hurdles, 1.77m for the high jump, 13.89m for the shot put and 24.80 for the 200m. Bracketing her javelin performance on the Sunday, she had a long jump of 5.78m and an 800m of 2:16.68.

As she moved to the top of the world U20 lists, she also achieved the qualifying standard for August’s IAAF World Championships in London which she may contest having been crowned the European U20 champion.

First, though, it is as much about the team as the individual at the combined events championships, where the top three women’s scores are added to the top three men’s in the decathlon.

Switzerland are back in the Super League after winning the First League in 2015 – they were promoted along with Poland – and the strongest opposition to Ruckstuhl going all the way could be from a woman she knows only too well – Estonia’s Grit Sadeiko.

As Ruckstuhl finished 12th in Gotzis, Sadeiko was just a place and 11 points behind her as she, too, broke a national record with 6280.

Grit Sadeiko
Grit Sadeiko

 

Ukraine’s European U18 champion Alina Shukh, 18, who was 16th in Gotzis with a best with senior implements of 6106, is here as well and she will also be a big contender in Grosseto.

Along with Sadieko, decathlete Janek Oiglane is one of Estonia’s major hopes and a major emerging talent.

At 23, he is currently in the best form of his life as he showed with his personal best of 8037 in Gotzis and he thrives at home. It was in Tallinn’s Kadriog Stadium in 2015 where he secured bronze at the European Athletics U23 Championships with his former best of 7945.

Oiglane is part of a strong five-man Estonian men’s squad who are arguably the favourites for the team title in which Karl Robert Saluri has a best of 8108 and a season’s best of 7948.

There was no combined events championships last summer in Olympic year but in Aubagne in 2015, Estonia were third with 39,875 points as Russia won the title with 41,700 from hosts France, who were second with 40,724.

In the decathlon two years ago, Ukraine’s Oleksiy Kasyanov, finished second and this time he is favourite for the top slot.

Ukraine multi-eventer Oleksiy Kasyanov
Ukraine multi-eventer Oleksiy Kasyanov

Kasyanov competes at the 2015 European Athletics Combined Events Team Championships

He was seventh in Gotzis with 8281 points and has remained consistent throughout his career, with his best decathlon of 8479 back in 2009 world championships in Berlin when he was fourth.

France’s Gael Querin is the fourth man in the field to have broken 8000 points, with his personal best of 8194 from his ninth place at the 2014 European Athletics Championships in Zurich.

The Czech Republic and the Netherlands were relegated in 2015 and they will look for immediate promotion in the Spanish city of Monzon, which stages both the First and Second leagues this weekend.

There will be a number of multi-event stars on show and among them in the Second League for Lithuania will be Austra Skujyte, who won Olympic heptathlon silver in Athens in 2004 and bronze in London in 2012.

Now 37, she might not be the force she was but experience counts for so much and she should push her younger rivals.

Slovakia’s Lucia Slanickova tops the field on season’s bests with 6103 from Kladno only 11 days ago and if she repeats that form, she will be one of the names to catch, as will be Greece’s Sofia Ifantidou – whose points in the javelin helped her country stay in the European Athletics Team Championships top flight last weekend – and Norway’s Ida Marcussen.

Niels Pittomvils, of Belgium, who achieved his best score of 8051 at Götzis last year, is the favourite in the decathlon.
In the First League, can Spain’s Jorge Urena keep up his superb year and bring glory for the host nation?

Urena won European indoor heptathlon silver in Belgrade in March and he is hoping to break 8000 points for the first time in the decathlon.

Like Pittomvils, his personal best also comes from Götzis in 2016 when he scored 7985 and is likely to be pushed by Sweden’s Marcus Nilsson, who has the best on points in the field with 8104.

The Netherlands’ will be led in heptathlon by Nadine Broersen, the 2014 world indoor pentathlon champion and European heptathlon silver medallist, while Eliska Klucinova, of the Czech Republic, is in great shape after her 6285 in Kladno.