Why Olympic Champ Nafissatou Thiam Is One To Watch

NOT SINCE Carolina Kluft set the European heptathlon record of 7032 in 2007 has any woman touched the 7000-point barrier but that gap was bridged in Gotzis last month by Belgium’s Olympic champion Nafissatou Thiam in one of the greatest heptathlon competitions of all-time.
12 June 2017
by:   Joel Campbell

Thiam triumphed at the prestigious Hypo-Meeting with 7013 as three heptathletes surpassed the 6800 barrier for just the second time in the same competition.

Germany’s Carolin Schafer, was second with 6836 with Laura Ikauniece-Admidina improving her Latvian record to 6815 to finish third. Great Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson, the overnight leader, finished fourth with a lifetime best of 6691.

“It is unbelievable,” said Thiam, who added nearly 200 points to her lifetime best of 6810 set when winning the Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro last summer.

“I came here to see where my form was and it was a really enjoyable weekend. Last year was incredible and I thought ‘maybe that’s my best’. But I just tried to do even better today.”

In the beautiful and spectacular setting of the track surrounded by the Austrian mountains, conditions were perfect as Thiam became only the fourth woman to break the 7000 point-barrier.

The Belgian moved to third on the world all-time lists behind American Jackie Joyner-Kersee (7291) and Sweden’s Kluft (7032) but ahead of Russia’s Larisa Turchinskaya (7007) as she broke the Gotzis meeting record held by Germany’s Sabine Braun with 6985.

And for Johnson-Thompson: no woman has recorded such a high score for fourth in any heptathlon ever.

Such was the standard, the top five all broke their personal bests, with Germany’s Claudia Salman Rath, the European indoor long jump bronze medallist, fifth with 6580.

The landmarks went on.

World U18 champion Geraldine Ruckstuhl, 19, broke a 32 year-old Swiss record with 6291 in 12th; inaugural European U18 champion Alina Shukh from Ukraine, 18, improved her lifetime best to 6106 in 16th; and world U20 champion Sarah Lagger, 17, broke the 6000-barrier with 6012 to finish 19th on home soil.

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