A record number of nine members of the UK Athletics Combined Events National Squad have qualified for the first IAAF World Combined Events Challenge meeting of the summer at Desenzano del Garda, Italy, on 5 and 6 May.
Ben Hazell (Basingstoke and Mid Hants AC), Kevin Sempers (Belgrave Harriers) and Dean Showler-Davis (Winchester and District AC) have qualified for the decathlon by scoring in excess of 7100 points.
Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Jessica Ennis (City of Sheffield AC) will be contesting the heptathlon along with Phyllis Agbo (Thames Valley Harriers), Dominique Blaize (Kingston and Polytechnic), Ros Gonse (Bedford and County AC), Katia Lannon (Sale Harriers Manchester) and Gemma Weetman (Oswestry Olympians). All scored in excess of 5200 points last summer.
The news that all have been accepted by the meeting organisers was given to the athletes at the final squad meeting of the winter.
Ian Grant, Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team leader at recent combined events internationals indoors and out, said: “We have worked very hard over the last four or five years to get into this position. Through the National Squad set-up we have seen a lot more progress this winter and are looking forward to this summer with considerable excitement.
“Desenzano has been a good meeting for us over the years. Jess Ennis scored a big PB there in 2005 at the start of the summer in which she became European Junior Champion. Last year Ben Hazell got a PB and Jade Surman qualified for the World Junior Championships.”
The nine competitors in Desenzano will be seeking qualifying performances for the summer’s major targets – the IAAF World Championships in Osaka, Japan; the European Under 23 Championships in Debrecen, Hungary; the European Junior Championships in Hengelo, Netherlands; and the World University Games in Bangkok, Thailand.
“Things are buzzing in combined events,” Grant added. “Hopefully we will get some good results from Desenzano to set us up nicely for the summer.”
The Multistars meeting in Desenzano is the first in the IAAF World Combined Events Challenge series, with prize ranging from US$30,000 for wins to US$5,000 for eighth places. The other meetings are at Gotzis, Austria, on 26-27 May; Arles, France, and Ratingen, Germany, both on 2-3 June; and Talence, France, on 22-23 September.