Continuing our series of AW content from years gone by, here is our coverage of Thompson’s 8707-point performance

Edition: June 5, 1982

8707 – and a new world record for Daley

On May 22-23 the picturesque village of Götzis, in Austria, once again played hosts in organising the eighth International Combined Events Meeting, and were rewarded with a new world record.

In contrast to most combined events meetings, the meeting was supported by a large crowd, which numbered over 5000 on the second day, and they were most appreciative and knowledgeable of the events taking place. The crowd were eager to welcome the return of Daley Thompson, who set his world record of 8622 there two years earlier, in the hope that he would regain the record that had been taken away from him some 27 days later by Guido Kratschmer.

Daley had already indicated upon his return from California where he had been training with Pan Zeniou that he had hoped to reclaim his record. Although Kratschmer was not competing, quite a number of the leading decathletes were, including the tall (6’7″) Jurgen Hingsen, at 24 some six months older than Daley.

First British athlete in action, in the opening heat of the 100m, was Pan Zeniou, and after a good start he clocked 11.45 in first place. Colin Boreham followed, and he too won his heat, in a PB of 11.04, with the aid of a 2.5mps following wind, noting that in combined events athletes are allowed up to 4.0 mps for record purposes.

In the next heat Thorsten Voss, who performed so well in the European Junior Championships in Utrecht last year, winning the first six events outright only to be pipped for the gold medal after the two days, stormed out of his blocks, and recorded the fastest time so far, with a legal 10.63.

The final heat contained the top five sprinters, including Daley. He crept low out of his blocks, but moved into an early lead and powered his way down the straight to clock 10.49 (+2.3m) and score 935 points. This put him 24 points ahead of his own former world record. Hingsen clocked a PB of 10.95.

With 33 athletes taking part, the long jump was split into two groups. The standard of jumping was befitting of a top class competition with 18 athletes leaping over 7m, five of these of 7.40m. The first of the top contenders to jump was Hingsen, who opened with 7.58m. Daley answered with 7.91m and young Voss added to his good 100m mark with 7.54m.

Commonwealth Games contender Peter Hadfield opened the second round with 7.45m, followed by Hingsen who increased his PB to 7.89m. Not to be outdone, Daley improved to 7.94. Hingsen responded well with his third effort, which measured 7.92m. With a roar from the crowd, Daley finished an excellent series with 7.95m (+1.8m) although he landed a little awkwardly, having to move one foot forward to gain vital extra centimetres.

In the second group Colin Boreham followed his opening 7.13m with a windy 7.16m (+3.3m) and both he and Zeniou (6.78m) moved ahead of their previous best scores.

Zeniou opened up with a decathlon PB of 14.60m in the second group of the shot, which won the group and added 765 points to his total, and by now he was 67 points up on his best score. Boreham also produced a decathlon best (13.58m) and was a massive 179 points up on his best. Both athletes looked good for high scores.

Meanwhile, in the other group, Swiss champion Stephan Niklaus, who has improved tremendously over the winter, opened with 15.23m, with Thompson opening at 14.89m, feeling the slight effects of a back niggle after the long jump. With the penultimate putt of the first round Hingsen let out a mighty roar and the shot landed at a 15.95m to give him 844 points.

Daley improved in his second round to 15.31m, some 13cm up on his best decathlon shot, and only 1cm below his outdoor best (he has an indoor best of 15.45m). He was now 112 points in excess of his world record performance and 45 points ahead of Kratschmer’s.

The high jump followed, and Zeniou equalled his outdoor/decathlon best of 1.85m in his group, to take himself 76 points ahead of his best overall score. Both Colin and Daley, in the other group, cleared 1.90m and 1.96m with little problem. Colin cleared 2.02m on his third attempt to remain those 179 points ahead of his best and Daley had no problem at 2.02m, 2.05m or 2.08m, with first time clearances at each height; this being matched by Hingsen whose height was an obvious advantage to him.

At 2.11m the Russian Junior, Walter Kulvet – who has a most exciting career ahead of him – cleared, as did Hingsen, both on their third trials. Daley’s first attempt was close, dropping his heels to knock the bar off and his third was even better, with the bar shaking on the pegs before dropping to the ground. Although Hingsen had reduced the lead slightly, to 62 points, Daley was now 113 points ahead of world record schedule.

The bright weather which had lasted for most of the day started to cool slightly for the final event of the first day, the 400m, with rain starting to fall in the first heat. Pan was the first of the British trio to run, and passing 200m in 24.2 he moved from third to second down the home straight to finish with 50.46, not far from his PB of 50.29. Two heats later Colin got on to his marks and went straight into the lead. He passed 200m in about 23.5 and powered down the home straight, stopping the clock at a fast 48.17. This reduced his all-time best mark from 48.45 and gave him a first day score of 4113. His previous first day best was 4002, although by now he was 239 points up on his best score total. Colin became the third British athlete, after Peter Gabbett and Daley, to score over 4100 points on the first day.

Daley was drawn in lane three of the final race of the day, one lane in front of his nearest rival, Hingsen, with Siggi Wentz just outside him. By the time he reached 200m he had passed all his rivals, clocking about 21.6. Although Niklaus and Hingsen made up some ground over the last 100m, Daley finished strongly for an extremely fast win in 46.86. He classed this, his third individual event win, as his best performance of all the disciplines. He had reduced his lifetime best, set in 1979, from 47.30. Niklaus also finished with a PB in second place (47.67), while Hingsen did likewise at 47.86.

World’s best first day – 4632

Daley’s first day score was 4632, which was 172 points ahead of Kratschmer’s first day total in his world record. More significant at this stage was the fact that it was also a world best for the first day – pipping Joachim Kirst’s 4557 by 75.

Hingsen had also recorded his best ever first day score with an impressive 4520, which included three all-time bests. Niklaus held third place at 4327, with Colin Boreham’s score good enough for eighth place, and Pan Zeniou in 21st spot with 3745.

As the second day started, with the 110m hurdles, Pan recorded 15.56 in his heat (now some 134 ahead of his best decathlon total) while Colin, although faster at 15.07, started off sluggishly, picking up only over the last three flights.

With the wind gauge registering -0.8m, Daley was first out of the blocks, and he led all the way, with Rufenacht making up ground at the finish. However, the time was more important. Daley’s was a superb 14.31, reducing his PB (set two years earlier in the same event) from 14.37. This performance, worth 926 points, gave him a total of 5558 after six events and a lead over Kratschmer’s score of 126.

Daley’s warm up discus throws had been landing in the 47m region, but he had to settle with an opening throw of 43.64m (still a decathlon best), followed by 43.08m, before hitting 44.34m with his final throw (his all-time best is 47.44m). Hingsen threw a decathlon best of 45.00m to draw slightly closer. Pan’s best was 41.06m, while Colin, throwing in the other pool, achieved 39.70m.

Best overall performance came from Walter Kulvet, only 18-years-old, and a probable successor to Daley’s Junior record, whose series was 49.48m, 48.78m and 49.88m. Walter is eligible for next year’s European Junior Championships.

Daley had now scored 6327 points compared to Kratschmer’s 6223.

The organisers are to be congratulated on the slickness of the timing of the pole vault, which took only 2 1/2 hours, with the two pools competing side by side. Colin had given the British camp (and himself) a scare, with two failures at his opening height of 4.00m, but he went over easily on his third attempt and finished with a decathlon best-equalling height of 4.20m, having cleared 4.40m in a recent pentathlon. Pan cleared 4.30m and 4.40m on his first trial and 4.50m on his third, before failing at 4.60m

Meanwhile Daley opened at 4.40m, clearing this by a long way. Hingsen recorded a decathlon best of 4.60m before leaving the competition, with Daley going over his first attempt at 4.70m. With Canada’s Dave Steen the only other competitor left in Daley passed 4.80m, a height cleared by Dave, who is another serious contender for medals in the Commonwealth Games. Dave had three good attempts at 4.90m, which Daley cleared on his third attempt.

Daley had two good attempts at 5.00m, but left the competition having equalled his best in a decathlon. Daley’s points score now reached 7355, some 175 points ahead of Kratschmer, and it was his fifth individual event win.

In the first group of the javelin Colin’s third round effort of 60.88m added 20cm to his best ever mark, and he was now a long way ahead of his decathlon best. Pan recorded 62.76m to finish his nine events on 6276. The first throw of the second group was taken by Stephan Niklaus. With a best of around 65m, he unleashed his effort, the javelin seemingly not wanting to land, and it finished around the 74m mark. Unfortunately Stephan couldn’t control the throw from the line and went over. On his final throw he also went out to about 73m, but was given a red flag. He did, however, record a PB of 68.04m in the second round.

Only 4:39.4 needed

By this time the rain had started, and Daley opened with a cautious 59.70m. His second throw, which landed around 62m, was also given a red flag by the judge, but his final effort soared over the 60m line, landing point first at 60.52m.

After nine events he had amassed 8122 points, some 103 ahead of schedule, while Hingsen was second with 7897. A quick look at the scoring tables showed that a mediocre 4:39.4s was required to exceed the 8649 points total set by Kratschmer.

The rain was getting heavier, although the crowd seemed to be increasing, urging the decathletes around the last of their disciplines, the 1500m.

Daley’s PB in the event is 4:20.3, set six years earlier to the day, when winning the AAA’s title with 7684. Colin and Pan competed in the same heat with Colin taking an early lead (passing 400m in 66.5) which he increased to the finish which he reached in 4:18.59. Zenny finished with 4:31.63 and 7547 points.

With the crowd all knowing that the record was in sight they raised their voices urging the final heat to get under way. The gun went with the Russian, Grigori Degtjarjov taking up the running, and Daley lying in fourth position, passing the 400m in 68.5. With the crowd noise getting deafening, the Russian went further ahead, Daley dropping to fifth place at 800m in 2:25.3. At the bell Grigori was 40m ahead, with Hingsen second, Wentz third and Daley in fourth, the clock finished at 3:21.8 and one lap to go.

Daley passed 1200m marks in 3:41.3 and he knew that the record was his once again. Encouraged by the enthusiastic crowd he went over the line in fourth place in 4:30.55, scoring 585 pts. His final points score was a massive 8707 points, in this, his 19th decathlon, adding 58 points to Kratschmer’s world record, and, in the process, adding 85 points to his own Commonwealth and UK National records.

An extraordinary achievement over the two days, yet there is still room for improvement on this score. He has certainly matured over the last 12 months, and although he had the world record in mind before the start of the event, he showed his unselfish attitude by helping, throughout the two days, his fellow British competitors Colin Boreham and Pan Zeniou, by checking their check marks during the high jump and pole vault, and generally encouraging them.

Hingsen had his best ever decathlon, improving from 8407 points to 8529, the sixth best ever score, while Grigori Degtjarjov improved from 8125 points to 8247. In fourth spot Niklaus added 58 points to his Swiss record with 8176, while Dave Steen, who recently recorded 8019 points (hand timing) set a Canadian best with electrical timing at 7980.

Colin had his best ever decathlon, and the occasion raised his performances considerably, improving his score of 7639 points, set in winning the 1981 AAA’s title, to an excellent 7935 points for second place on the UK all-time list ahead of Peter Gabbett’s 7903.

Report by Alan Lindop.

In the previous week’s edition of Athletics Weekly, a quote from Daley had read: “It justifies the work I’ve put in over the last four months, but I’m not as good as I could be. I can improve all round and the 9000 points barrier is possible.”

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