Erm leads the decathlon standings after a “perfect” first day

Johannes Erm
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Estonia's Johannes Erm leads the decathlon after the first day of competition at the Gavle 2019 European Athletics U23 Championships

Estonia’s Johannes Erm described his first day at the Gavle 2019 European Athletics U23 Championships as “perfect” and the overall leaderboard reflects this, sitting overnight with a lead of 250 points over his German rivals Manuel Eitel and Niklas Kaul at the Gavle 2019 European Athletics U23 Championships.

Erm set two lifetime bests in his first five events and he was only a whisker away from his best ever marks in his other three events. He had already established a lead of 150 points after three events and he added another 100 points to his lead after clearing a lifetime best of 2.03m in the high jump before winning the 400m in 47.41 - just 0.01 shy of his lifetime best. He was only one centimetre adrift of his long jump lifetime best with 7.97m and just missed his shot put PB by three centimetres with 14.66m.

“It's been a perfect day and I've had a lot of fun so it was all great, but that 400m was hard. It was my best day one ever,” said Erm. “Now, I will do everything I can to recover - ice bath, massage, compression and a lot of sleep if I can - everything hurts. There are big scores to chase tomorrow.”

Erm might have established a significant lead after five events but Kaul is renowned for his second day prowess as the Estonian only knows too well after winning silver and bronze medals behind the German at both the IAAF World U20 Championships three years ago and the European Athletics U20 Championships the following year.

Erm has amassed a total of 4513 points after day one ahead of Eitel (4263 points) and Kaul (4208 points). Kaul’s score represents his best ever first day total and he is expected to make even more of an impact on the leaderboard in the last two events and on his lifetime best which stands at 8336 points from the Gotzis Hypo-Meeting in May.

The Germans are in a fine position to win two medals in the decathlon tomorrow evening but they won’t match their teammates in the women’s shot put which produced a clean sweep. The German triumvirate occupied the first three places in the qualifying round and they did so again tonight, albeit in a different order.

Former world U20 champion Alina Kenzel threw 17.94m in the fifth round to displace Katharina Maisch’s third round throw of 17.64m with current European U20 champion Julia Ritter winning bronze with 17.17m. Nobody else in the field surpassed the 17 metre-line.

The Germans also won gold in the men’s pole vault courtesy of Bo Kanda Lita Baehre who cleared 5.65m on his second attempt to defeat a disappointed Emmanouil Karalis from Greece, the former European U18 champion who had to settle for silver with 5.60m.

At 19, Karalis was the youngest athlete competing in the field - and one of the youngest athletes competing at the championships - and he will still be eligible to compete at the next edition of the European U23 Championships in Bergen, Norway in 2021.

“Coming to these championships, my goal was always to get a medal - preferably gold. To be honest, today it was not my day - besides that Bo Kanda Lita Baehre was the golden man,” said Karalis, acknowledging his long-time contemporary.