After missing much of the 2020 decathlon and heptathlon seasons due to the pandemic, World Athletics (WA) has announced that the 2021 WA Challenge – Combined Events will begin early, starting on December 18 and 19 on the French island of Réunion. The WA Challenge – Combined Events is the annual series for decathletes and heptathletes, and none of its usual lineup of events were held in 2020. The start of the 2021 series will be the first opportunity the world’s top multi-sport athletes have to qualify for the Tokyo Summer Games, as the Olympic qualification window opens on December 1.
“I can’t wait to get back on track and achieve the Olympic qualifying standard.” @mayer_deca headlines Meeting de la Réunion, the start of World Athletics Challenge – Combined Events.
— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) November 25, 2020
Meeting de La Réunion
The December event — dubbed the Meeting de La Réunion — was organized in a joint effort between the French Athletics Federation and the Réunion Island Athletics League, and it will reportedly include a number of international athletes. There’s no word yet on whether Canadian decathletes Damian Warner or Pierce LePage or heptathlete Georgia Ellenwood will make the trip to Réunion, which is in the Indian Ocean, about 1,000 kilometres off the eastern coast of Madagascar.
One lock for the event is France’s Kevin Mayer, the decathlon world record holder and 2017 world champion. The Olympic qualifying window for combined event athletes opened on January 1, 2019, but Mayer has yet to book his spot for the Tokyo Games, as he pulled out of the only decathlon he entered last year. With the combined events series returning, he told WA that he’s eager to hop back into competition.
“I can’t wait to get back on track, to put into practice everything I’ve worked on this year and to achieve the Olympic qualifying standard,” he said. “When I do [qualify], it will be less pressure, and I will be able to finish my preparation for Tokyo calmly.” The Olympic standard for the decathlon is 8,350 points and 6,420 points for the heptathlon. (For context, Warner’s and LePage’s decathlon PBs are 8,795 and 8,453 points, respectively, and Ellenwood’s heptathlon best is 6,173.)
The 2021 season
The rest of the 2021 combined events series continues on April 24 in Italy, and a month later it picks back up in Ottawa at the Pan American Combined Events Championships. There are six events before the Olympics, which kick off in July. The full list for the 2021 calendar is listed below.
December 18-19, 2020 – Meeting de la Reunion, La Réunion
April 24-25 – Multistars, Italy
May 15-16 – Pan American Combined Events Championships, Ottawa
May 29-30 – Hypo-Meeting, Austria
June 12-13 – Meeting Internacional Arona, Spain
June 19-20 – Stadtwerke Ratingen Mehrkampf-Meeting, Germany
July 30 – August 8 – Olympic Games, Japan
September 18-19 – Decastar, France