Belgian multi-eventing superstar narrowly sees off Adrianna Sułek in Istanbul as they go first and second on the all-time list

Adrianna Sułek held the world pentathlon record for six seconds but Nafissatou Thiam now claims that coveted crown.

It was without a doubt the highest standard in pentathlon history as these two heavyweights battled it out for gold at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul on Friday (March 4).

The result, and the fashion of it, could be remembered for generations.

In the final of the five events, which is the 800m in the pentathlon, Sułek crossed the line first and clocked 2:07.17. Such was the gap in the standings going into it, Thiam would’ve had to finish eighth to relinquish her grip of the title she won in Torun two years ago.

The Belgian though placed fourth with a time of 2:13.60. It meant, incredibly, that Sułek first broke Nataliya Dobrynska’s world record of 5013 points – set at the same Ataköy Arena back in 2012 – before Thiam took both the record and the gold medal.

“Coming here, I felt very confident, I have done a lot of good work and of course, the world record was in my mind,” said Thiam, who is now a triple European indoor champion.

“But you need a good competition, to feel good and to perform well. It is a good information for me that I managed to show this result despite the fact that not all events were perfect today.

“After the 60m hurdles however, I already felt like, ‘oh, this can be my day’. When you have good competitors like we had today, they just push you to show your best.”

It’s not a surprise Thiam was so complimentary of Sułek. The Pole set personal bests of 8.21 and 6.62m in the 60m hurdles and long jump respectively while she also equalled her best mark of 1.89m in the high jump.

It took Thiam to produce her fastest and greatest ever 800m indoors to secure the gold.

“I really wanted to have a world record and I have done everything,” added a candid Sułek. “I didn’t expect that Nafi [Thiam] would fight in this style today. I have ambitions. I will still work. It’s my litlle fail today. I hope that in the future I will be the best in the world.”

Climbing to the top of the multi-eventing tree, in regards to both the podium and the all-time rankings, will be on the minds of both Thiam and Sułek when the World Championships take place in Budapest in August.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Mark Shearman)

Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s heptathlon world record of 7291 points has lasted since 1988 and although Thiam once got close with 7013 points, that was all the way back in 2017. However, the manner of her indoor season will provide the double Olympic, world and European champion the confidence she can get near Joyner-Kersee’s seemingly untouchable mark.

Thiam will also be motivated from competition within her own country and that was clearly outlined in Istanbul as Noor Vidts, who claimed 4823 points, completed the podium.

It wasn’t to be for Holly Mills however as the Brit finished, by her high standards, in a disappointing sixth place with 4451 points.

Mills narrowly missed out on a podium by just seven points at last year’s World Indoor Championships in Belgrade and was heartbroken to leave without a medal.

However, the circumstances this season are different.

“It’s not the score or the place that I wanted, but I am proud of what I put down today considering I didn’t run for three months over the winter, have barely done any speed work coming into this and it’s really been a very different approach to indoors than I have had in previous years,” Mills said.

“Usually I am a lot stronger indoors than I was today but I can’t complain competing against the new world record-holder and the fact that two people broke it in that competition, that is insane. Multi-events is in an incredible place at the moment.

“It just makes me hungrier and makes me want it even more because I’m like ‘next year at worlds I want to be turning up and contending with these girls’. I want to be going into that 800m being like ‘I could be on the podium here’ rather than just trying to run my best. They really do inspire me, one day I want to be up there challenging them for medals and world records which I think I can.”

Mills’ marks were: 4451 points [60m hurdles – 8.34 SB, high jump – 1.77m (indoor PB), shot put – 12.99m, long jump – 5.85m, 800m – 2:12.58 SB].

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