It could be a big year for Dutch decathlete Eelco Sintnicolaas and this weekend he has made a good start.
With a score of 8161, Sintnicolaas won the 27th Multistars meet in Firenze to put down a base to build on as he looks to become European multi-event champion indoors and out.
Back in Gotenburg last year, Sintnicolaas scored 6372 points when he won gold in the heptathlon at the European Athletics Indoor Championships and his progression saw him finish fifth a few months later in the decathlon at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow with 8391.
He will be one of the main names at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich in August and as he proved in Italy, he is warming up well for the big competition of the summer.
Sintnicolaas led the Multistars meeting overnight with 4028 points after 10.94 in the 100m, 7.27m in the long jump, 13.98m in the shot put, 1.86m in the high jump and 48.81m for the 400m.
He was in front by 34 points from Great Britain’s Ashley Bryant and Dutch teammate Pieter Braun with 3992 as French duo Kevin Mayer - who was fourth in Moscow - and Gael Querin stopped after the high jump.
And the top three then, were the top three at the finish with Sintnicolaas running 14.31 for the 110m hurdles, throwing a discus personal best of 43.38m, clearing 5.25m for the pole vault, 61.82m in the javelin and 4:35.23 in the 1500m with Bryant finishing on 7802 points and Braun with a personal best of 7773.
Morgan Lake, of Great Britain, does not turn 17 until next Monday but she is making quite a mark in 2014.
After a winter where she broke Carolina Kluft’s World Youth best for the pentathlon, now competing in her first senior heptathlon in Firenze, Lake showed age is no barrier as she won with 5896 points, a British youth best, from Katsiarina Netsviatayeva, 24, of Belarus, with 5868, and Canada’s Jessica Zelinka, 22, with 5853.
A new name is emerging in the javelin world after Slovakian Patrik Zenuch took his personal best from 79.52m to 84.83m in Kosice on Sunday.
Easily clearing the qualifying standard for Zurich of 78.80m, no Slovak-born athlete has ever thrown further, but his effort is not the national record.
As he moved to second in the World rankings - Japan’s Ryohei Arai leads with 85.48m from Hiroshima last month - Zenuch will still have to go a bit further to overtake the national best of 87.66m held by Czechoslovakian-born Jan Zelezny.
That was his World record in 1987 and at the time he was a member of Dukla Banska Bystrica - the same Slovak club as Zenuch.
On Sunday in Jicin, in the Czech Republic, Milan Kocourek landed the national 10,000m title when he won in 29:30.00 and in the women’s race, Slovakian marathon runner Katarina Beresova triumphed in a personal best of 33:11.66, inside the Zurich qualifying time of 33:30:00, as was Lucie Sekanova in 33:22.90 as she became the national champion.
Further qualifying times for the European Athletics Championships were achieved in Aichach at the German 10,000m championships as Richard Ringer won the men’s race in a personal best of 28:28.96 (28:55:00 is the Zurich mark) and Corinna Harrer took the women’s event in a personal best of 32:27.75 with a superb defeat of favourite Sabrina Mockenhaupt who ran 32:29.26.
THE WEEK AHEAD
It is a big week of meetings in Europe, with 68 events. For all the dates, visit our European Athletics Calendar.