GOETZIS, Austria (AP) German decathlete Kai Kazmirek built a slim lead on the opening day of the Hypo Meeting Saturday, while 2013 winner Brianne Theisen-Eaton of Canada went top of the women’s heptathlon after four events.
Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill made a convincing return to competition, currently third in the Briton’s first heptathlon since winning gold at the 2012 London Games.
Kazmirek gathered 4,409 points to lead Jeremy Taiwo by 21. Kazmirek overtook the American, who won the high jump with a 2.15-meter effort, by finishing second in the final event of the day, the 400 meters.
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The 400 was won by 2013 champion Damian Warner of Canada, who led after the opening two events but dropped to the back of the field after failing to score points with three invalid attempts at the shot put.
Olympic and world decathlon champion Ashton Eaton pulled out citing lower back problems. Shortly before the start of the event, Eaton appeared on the field casually dressed and informed spectators he injured himself during shot put practice this week.
It would have been the American world record-holder’s first appearance at the IAAF World Combined Events Challenge event in the Austrian Alps.
In the heptathlon, Theisen-Eaton finished runner-up in both the high jump and the 200 for a total of 4,031 points, 36 clear of Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands, with Ennis-Hill 103 points back in third.
Schippers was eighth after three events but the double European sprint champion climbed to second after dominating the 200 in 22.39, almost a second faster than Theisen-Eaton.
Ennis-Hill, who was out with an Achilles tendon injury last year as well as having a child, opened with 13.24 in the 100 hurdles, more than half a second off her personal best in what is usually her strongest event. She followed up with consistent performances in the high jump, shot put and 200.
Ennis-Hill, who won the event in Austria for a third straight year in 2012 while setting a British record of 6,906 points, was targeting a score of 6,200, the qualification mark for the 2016 Rio Olympics.