Melnychenko the one to beat in a Moscow re-match

Melnychenko the one to beat in a Moscow re-match
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Ukraine's Hanna Melnychenko is favourite for gold in the women's heptathlon at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich after her gold medal performance at the IAAF World Championships last year in Moscow.

In just over a month, the world’s leading multi-eventers will gather at the biggest competition before the European Athletics Championships and for Hanna Melnychenko, an opportunity to send out a message of what could lie ahead.

And if she wanted a good way to test herself before Zurich in August, it could not be tougher as she heads to the Hypo Meeting in Gotzis.

Ukrainian Melnychenko achieved the greatest moment of her career last summer when she won gold at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, achieving victory by the narrowest of margins of just 56 points with 6586.

Gotzis will be a re-match of the Moscow medallists as Melnychenko faces Canada’s Brianne Theisen-Eaton, who was second behind her in Russia, and Dafne Schippers, of the Netherlands, who was third with a national record of 6477.

Personal bests for the top three showed the standards they reached in a competition that was so close, with Melnychenko finishing seventh in the 800m, the final event, in 2:09.85, one place ahead of Theisen-Eaton in 2:09.03.

It ensured the Canadian did not make up enough of the points - they scored 979 and 967 respectively for this last discipline - and the Ukrainian was the champion.

The decathlon in Moscow was not quite as close as Theisen-Eaton’s husband, Ashton Eaton, the world record-holder, won with 8809 but in second, Germany’s Michael Schrader produced a personal best of 8670.

Back in 2009, Schrader was the Gotzis champion and he returns for the event from 31 May to 1 June. He will face Canada’s Damian Warner who finished third behind him in Moscow with 8512.

Vitezslav Vesely will be the defending javelin champion in Zurich and part of his build-up will see him compete at the 53rd Ostrava Golden Spike Meet on 17 June.

The Czech Republic star, who is also the world champion, has been training in South Africa where the conditions have contributed to him recovering from a knee injury.

He said that the "Potchefstroom climate helped and I am able to throw, it is not ideal, but I think I can achieve similar results as last year."

Vesely won the European crown with a throw of 83.72m in Helsinki in 2012 and took gold in Moscow with 87.17m.

France’s world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie will also be in Ostrava and he celebrated a win on his comeback from his cut foot with victory at the Drake Relays Pole Vault event in the shopping mall in Jordan Creek town centre in Iowa.

He won this event for the second time, taking the title on countback from Great Britain’s Steve Lewis as both men had best vaults of 5.71m.