An elbow injury scuppered a prospective European heptathlon record for Nafissatou Thiam at the Talence Decastar but the reigning world and Olympic champion still came away with a world-leading score of 6819 points in her first heptathlon since winning the European title in Berlin.
Thiam was in fantastic form across the first five events in Talence. She improved her world best in the high jump to 2.02m on the first day - a mark only bettered by Russia’s Mariya Lasitskene in 2019 - and set an outright lifetime best of 15.41m in the shot put.
The Belgian also performed solidly in the track events, opening her account with 13.49 in the 100m hurdles and closing her first day in the 200m with 24.55m. Thiam finished her first day with 4133 points which was 77 points ahead of her corresponding score when she tallied 7013 points in Gotzis in 2017 and she moved further ahead of schedule with a national record of 6.67m in the long jump.
Nafissatou Thiam improves her world best in the heptathlon high jump to 2.02m in Talence!pic.twitter.com/L8B1cXSzUm
— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) June 22, 2019
But Thiam, who missed the indoor season due to a leg injury, sustained an elbow injury in the javelin which limited her to two throws - the best being 47.25m. There was some speculation that Thiam might not be fit enough to compete in the 800m but the 24-year-old took to the track for the conclusion with a heavily strapped elbow and covered the two laps in 2:20.46.
"Unfortunately I hurt myself in the javelin. I tried to carry on because I could go for a big score but the pain I felt after the second throw was too intense to continue. I decided to run the 800m only so I could secure my ticket for Tokyo 2020," she said on Instagram.
Thiam might have been held back physically in the last two events but she still eclipsed Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s world lead by six points and her overall score was the second best of her illustrious career, bettered only by her aforementioned 7013 points in the Gotzis Hypo-Meeting two years ago.
A worrying sign for her rivals is Thiam told reporters in Talence that she didn’t feel in her very best shape after the first day despite being on course for a score in excess of 7000 points.
“After the high jump, I already felt that I was very tired. My energy levels diminished quite rapidly during the day; this makes sense because I haven’t had many weeks of intense training yet,” Thiam told sport.be after the first day.
There was an all-European podium in the heptathlon as Xenia Krizsan was second with a Hungarian record of 6619 points with Latvia’s Laura Ikauniece third with 6518 points.
Belgium’s former European champion Thomas van der Plaetsen finished third with 8214 points - his best score since finishing eighth at the 2016 Olympics where he set his lifetime best of 8332 points - behind Canada’s Pierce LePage (8453 points) and Zach Ziemek from the United States (8344 points).
Participating in selected events, world record-holder Kevin Mayer claimed to be at 85 percent fitness and he performed well in the six events he contested, winning three of them: 15.56m in the shot put, 13.90 in the 110m hurdles and 50.15m in the discus.
Mayer also just missed his 100m lifetime best of 10.55 in the first event, stopping the clock at 10.60. He also recorded 7.55 in the long jump and cleared 5.05 in the pole vault.
His next competition will be the Monaco Diamond League on 12 July when he will contest the javelin.