© Copyright – 2014 – Athletics Illustrated
On July 30th at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, two Canadians earned medals in the heptathlon event. Jessica Zelinka of London, Ontario won silver by achieving a point total of 6270, while Humboldt, Saskatchewan’s Brianne Theisen-Eaton won gold with her total of 6597 points.
They capped off their competition in Glasgow, going 1-2 in the final event, the 800m race. The 25-year-old Theisen-Eaton won the 800m in 2:11.46, while the veteran Zelinka finished in a season best 2:11.54 and Jessica Tappin of England finished in third in a close finish with the Canadians with her 2:11.65. Tappin ended up finishing in sixth overall with 5695 points. Third overall went to England’s Jessica Taylor with her 5826 point total.
Theisen-Eaton competed in the 2012 London Olympic Games where she finished 11th overall. The following year she competed in the IAAF World Track and Field Championships that took place in Moscow, Russia earning a silver medal, while amassing a total of 6530 points. She followed up the Worlds with an Indoor Worlds silver medal in the Pentathlon event (indoor version of heptathlon) setting a new Canadian indoors record with her 4768 points in Sopot, Poland. She is the only Canadian woman to podium in the multi-events at the World Championships.
Zelinka earned gold at the 2007 Rio Pan-American Games and followed that up by winning silver at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games. She came heartbreakingly close to medalling during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games by finishing fifth overall, then seventh in the 2012 London Olympic Games in both the heptathlon as well as the 100m hurdles, which is also an event within the heptathlon. She finished fourth in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. She twice held the Canadian senior record for points, first from the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games where she achieved a total of 6490 points then during the 2012 Canadian Track and Field Championships where she ran up a point total of 6599.
The women started off the heptathlon with the 100mh event, which was easily won by Zelinka in 12.83 earning a healthy 1150 points for that event. Zelinka happens to be a world-class hurdler and competed in the event finishing seventh in the 2012 London Olympic Games – separate from the heptathlon. Theisen-Eaton finished second in the 100mh in the time of 13.18, which earned her 1097 points. Tappin was also third in this event finishing in 13.51 and 1049 points.
That was the end of the lead for Zelinka, as Theisen-Eaton got a turn at her strong event next, the High jump, which she won by clearing the height of 1.84m or 1029 points, to mover her total to 2126 points and first. Zelinka dropped to second with her 1.69m jump, which was the eighth highest.
Outside of the two leaders, the Shot put wasn’t close. The only two to clear 13m were Theisen-Eaton and Zelinka as they again went 1-2 going the distance of 13.71m and 13.56m, respectively to move their totals to 2901 and 2763. Theisen-Eaton’s throw was a new personal best distance.
The two Canadians continued to run away with the heptathlon by again going 1-2, this time in the 200m race, Zelinka finished second in 24.00, while Theisen-Eaton set a new personal best with her time of 23.41. Their point totals now beginning to appear out of reach as the third highest points total on one day one, after the 200m race 3469 by Saint Lucia’s Makeba Alcide – Theisen-Eaton now led with 3939 to Zelinka’s 3744.
Day two started with the Long jump, where once again Theisen-Eaton jumped the farthest – so far, she has finished second or first in every event. Theisen-Eaton leapt 6.44m. Although Zelinka would not relinquish second place overall, she only jumped 5.91m, the fourth farthest. Their point totals were now 4927 and 4566, respectively.
Zelinka made a valiant effort to come back in the sixth of seven events, the Javelin throw, where she launched a distance of 44.90m, clearly outclassing the competition in this event. Jamaican Salcia Slack finished second by throwing 44.48m and for the first time Theisen-Eaton finished an event outside of first or second, this time third with her throw of 43.13m. There was now just 300 points separating first from second with Theisen-Eaton’s total sitting at 5654 after the javelin and 5328 for Zelinka.
The heptathlon includes seven events: 100 metres hurdles, High jump, Shot put, 200 metres, Long jump, Javelin throw and 800 metre race. Women have been competing in the decathlon in some track meets; however, it remains the men’s event, while the heptathlon remains the women’s event.
The scoring system is complex, however, benchmarks of 1000 points per event are set at the following: 100m hurdles completed in 13.85 seconds = 1000 points as are High jump height of 1.82m, Shot put 17.07m, 200m run in the time of 23.80 seconds, Long jump distance of 6.48m, Javelin throw 57.18m and the 800m race in 2:07.63.
The world record for the heptathlon is held by American Jackie Joyner-Kersee with her total of 7291 points from the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. The top current performance stands at second all-time by Swede Carolina Kluft with her total of 7032 from 2007 – she won three consecutive world championship golds back-to-back-to-back. The top Olympic result to date came from Jessica Ennis-Hill from the 2012 London Olympic Games with her performance of 6955, which stands at fifth all-time. The 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games gold was won by Great Britain’s Louise Hazel.