Nafissatou Thiam remains on course to complete a second full set of Olympic, world and European heptathlon titles on the eve of her 28th birthday at the Munich 2022 European Athletics Championships, part of the wider multi-sport European Championships.
But the geography graduate was unable to keep herself in the direction of Jessica Ennis-Hill’s championship record - and a possible second 7000-plus points score.
Thiam started day two on 4063 points, just eight points down on her opening day score at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, where she proceeded to regain the title with 6947, the second best score of her career - behind the 7013 national record in Gotzis in 2017 that ranks her third on the world all-time list.
The highlight of her opening day performance had come in the field - with a 1.98m championship heptathlon best in the high jump but in the long jump and javelin on the day two morning schedule she was a good way below her best.
Thiam’s opening effort in the long jump was only 6.08m – well short of her lifetime best (6.86m) and season’s best (6.59m) – and she was unable to improve on it, struggling for rhythm on the runway and registering fouls with her second and third efforts.
That knocked her off target for the championship record set by Ennis-Hill in Barcelona in 2010 (6823) but she was still 99 points clear of the field with 4937 points.
Of the other likely medal contenders Thiam’s Belgian teammate Noor Vidts, the 2022 world indoor champion, produced the best jump: 6.31m, just two centimetres down on her season’s best.
Anouk Vetter, the Dutchwoman who took silver behind Thiam at the Olympic Games in Tokyo last year, and at the World Championships in Eugene last month, leapt 6.27m but then withdrew from the competition because of an Achilles tendon injury.
“I felt some pain after the long jump and during warm up for the javelin it got worse,” said Vetter. “It looks like it was too early for me to compete again after the World Championships.”
Perhaps the lack of competition did not help Thiam on the motivational front but in the javelin – the final event of the morning, with the concluding 800m to come in Thursday evening’s session – the Belgian was far from her best once again.
In Berlin 2018, Thiam set a heptathlon championship best in the event, 57.91m. Four years on, she could manage only 48.89m. Her first throw was in excess of the 50 metre-line but landed out of the sector.
Still, that left her on 5776 points, 172 clear of Annik Kalin (5604), who leapt 6.73m in the long jump and threw 46.72m in the javelin.
After marks of 6.55m in the long jump and 42.80m in the javelin, Poland’s Adrianna Sulek held third spot with 5560 points. Vidts, after 41.82m in the javelin, lies fourth with 5497.
Full results here.