South Africa’s top decathlete, Willem Coertzen was runner-up at the 19 Erdgas Merhkampf meeting in Ratingen, Germany at the weekend, writes Mark Etheridge.
It was his second competition in the build-up to World Championships in Bejing, China later this year and he scored 8341 points to seal silver behind the host nation’s Michael Schrader (8419 points).
The Potchefstroom based Coertzen was one of 16 starters in a competition that saw just seven men finishing.
‘It was another solid performance, four weeks after my last one,’ Coertzen told Road to Rio 2016.
‘A lot of the events didn’t go too well so to get over 8300 again is a good indication. The first day the wind was terrible and it was the same on second day with the pole vault, a big head wind!’
Coertzen’s personal best was the 8398 that he racked up in Austria last month at the Hypo meeting in Gotzis.
Good news was that he had two personal bests in Ratingen, in the 110-metre hurdles (14.06) and in the shot put (14.50m, see picture above).
Pole vault has been Coetzen’s perennial Achilles Heel down the years and he cleared 4.50m at the weekend. But there’s also some good news on this front.
‘I was jumping well but the pole got too small and I just didn’t have a stiffer one as I’m jumping with one of the poles from my old training partner in the United Kingdom but it was okay!
‘I have all the poles at home, it would just be nice to compete with them. I’m also starting with my new pole vault coach when I get back..
‘Okkert Brits is going to help me a bit and I’ll see him once or twice a month so am really looking forward to that.’
Brits is still SA’s best pole vaulter with a 6.03m best and also a gold medallist at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
‘My next competition is Beijing, so it’s back home now and time to start getting really sharp and every event in order!’
Coetzen’s breakdown of his weekend’s competition:
100m – 11.08sec (843); Long jump – 7.48m (930), Shot put – 14.50m (759), High jump – 2.01m (813), 400m – 48.50sec (885), 110m hurdles – 14.06sec (967), Discus – 43.94m (745), Pole vault – 4.50m (760), Javelin – 68.79m (871), 1500 – 4:26.52 (768)