Reigning European U18 and U20 champion Maria Vicente from Spain smashed her national heptathlon record by almost 200 points with a European-leading score of 6304 points at the prestigious Multistars meeting in Lana, Italy on 24-25 April.
This was Vicente’s first heptathlon as a fully-fledged senior although her principal rivals in Lana would have been familiar to the precocious Spaniard from her extensive and successful age-group career.
Vicente, 20, won the European U20 heptathlon title in Boras two years ago in a thrilling and see-sawing competition ahead of Ireland’s Kate O’Connor by 22 points - 6115 to 6093 points - and the Irishwoman proved to be her closest challenger once again.
O’Connor outperformed Vicente in the last two events with outstanding individual marks of 51.61m in the javelin - little more than a metre shy of her personal best of 52.92m which places her second on the Irish all-time list for the discipline - and then a lifetime best of 2:11.76 in the 800m.
The Irish athlete's brilliant performance in the 800m almost took O’Connor from third to first in the overall standings but Vicente gritted her teeth and crossed the line in 2:18.60 to eke out victory by a mere seven points on this occasion.
Like Vicente, O’Connor, who set four individual lifetime bests across the two days, was rewarded with a massive national record of 6297 points, adding more than 200 points to her previous Irish record tally of 6093 points which was set in Boras two years ago.
Vicente was only fourth overnight but she made sterling progress up the leaderboard over the course of the second day.
After recording 6.41m in the long jump, Vicente smashed her javelin lifetime best with 47.83m before the points amassed from her 800m run propelled her past a tiring Marthe Koala from Burkina Faso on the leaderboard as well as countering the resolute second day challenge from O'Connor.
"When I came here, I never thought that I could break the national record. I improved my javelin throw PB by three metres. This was the highlight of my competition this weekend,” Vicente told World Athletics.
She added: "My goal is to qualify for the Olympic Games. My next competition is the combined events meeting in Arona. This year I am focusing on the heptathlon, but I could return to triple jump next year."
Koala dropped from first to third after concluding her heptathlon with a sluggish 2:25.72 in the 800m although she was also rewarded with an improvement of her national record with 6238 points.
Fourth at the European U20 Championships behind Vicente and O’Connor, Holly Mills from Great Britain replicated that finishing position in Lana. However, her score of 6180 points represented a significant improvement on her previous lifetime best of 5802 points from Boras.
The 21-year-old also set four individual outdoor lifetime bests and was the best performer in both the 100m hurdles (13.21) and high jump (1.83m).
In the decathlon, 2018 winner Martin Roe from Norway dominated proceedings with 8055 points ahead of Adam Sebastian Helcelet from the Czech Republic with 8025 points and Sweden’s Fredrik Samuelsson with 7815 points.
Italy’s Dario Dester, who broke the national indoor heptathlon record during the indoor campaign, was fourth with 7758 points.
Duplantis clears world leading 5.90m in Baton Rouge
In his first competition since winning the European indoor pole vault title with a championship record of 6.05m, Sweden's Armand Duplantis cleared a world outdoor leading height of 5.90m at the LSU Alumni Gold meeting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Saturday (24).
Duplantis cleared 5.90m on his second attempt before taking one unsuccessful attempt at 6.00m.
At the USTAF Grand Prix meeting in Eugene, Oregon on Saturday (24), the Brits swept the women's middle and long distance events. Eilish McColgan dominated the 5000m in 14:52.44 to win by more than 20 seconds and Laura Muir eschewed the pacemakers in the 1500m to win in a gun-to-tape 4:01.54.
Muir's training partner Jemma Reekie was on the cusp of victory in the 800m but she was pipped on the line by teammate Adelle Tracey in a tactical race, 2:03.25 to 2:03.26.
European indoor 60m hurdles silver medallist Cindy Sember broke her six-year-old lifetime best in the 100m hurdles with victory at the Drake Relays in Des Moines in a European leading time of 12.57.