A disappointing high jump result has London native Jessica Zelinka in eighth place in the heptathlon at the world track and field championships in Daegu, South Korea, and hard-pressed to better her Canadian record in the seven-discipline event.
On Monday, Zelinka was third in the 100-metre hurdles in a season-best 13.01 seconds, fourth in the shot put with 14.91 metres (another season best) and fifth in the 200 metres in 24.01 seconds. But in the high jump, the second event of the day, Zelinka was 26th after only clearing 1.68 metres.
She sits eighth overall with 3,783 points and Tuesday will compete in the long jump, javelin and 800 metres, needing solid performances in each if she is to threaten her national mark of 6,490 points, which she set at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
In the decathlon, Damian Warner of London struggled over his final four disciplines to wind up 18th overall with 7,832 points.
On Saturday, he started brightly with a third-place finish in the 100 metres, clocking 10.56 seconds. He followed that up with a ninth in the long jump (7.35m), a 24th in the shot put (13.26m), a tie for fifth in the high jump (2.02m) and an 18th in the 400 metres (50.12 seconds).
Sunday, the second and final day of the competition, also started well as he was fourth in the 100-metre hurdles (14.19 seconds), but his day unravelled after that - 21st in the discus (41.71m), 19th in the pole vault (4.50m, still a personal best), 18th in the javelin (54.61m) and 18th in the 1,500 metres (4:54.37).
"I was a little disappointed at first, just because I know what I am capable of and I just thought this would be the perfect competition for it," he said in an e-mail. "But I guess its not too bad since I had my second-best score ever and I feel like it was one of my worst decathlons, so it can only get better from here.
"I feel like I've learned more from this experience then I have in all my decathlons combined. Things are a lot different at this stage, and just seeing how other people handle certain situations and how they carried themselves throughout will help me a lot in future competitions.
"It was cool to get to know all the decathletes there and talk and get to know them, so next time it will be a lot easier walking into a room full of people you've watched on TV or YouTube. Turns out a lot of them knew or had heard about me, so that was also real cool.
"I realized I can compete with these guys, but by that time it was too late and I was already frustrated. Athletically, I have what it takes to compete with any of these guys, but I have a lot of hard work to do in the longer distances and the technical events.
"After some needed rest, I'm willing to work hard to be on that (2012) Olympic team and not only be there but compete for real this time."
Cotten shines in China At the 26th World University (FISU) Games in Shenzhen, China, Jen Cotten of London set or tied personal bests in six of the seven disciplines as she finished eighth overall in the heptathlon. And that was after hitting a couple of hurdles hard and almost falling in the opening event, the 100-metre hurdles.
She then tied her PB of 1.68m in the high jump and followed with 10.98m in the shot put, 24.55 seconds in the 200, 6.21m in the long jump, 31.62m in the javelin and 2:12.57 in the 800.
"It was kind of a best-case scenario," she said. "I didn't have my best hurdles race, but I was glad to be able to pick it up after that. I wouldn't say I was angry about the hurdles race, but the challenge was to make sure I could come back after that.
"It was really important to be in the right spot mentally before the meet and I was really able to enjoy it. Natasha (Miller of Abbotsford, B.C., the other Canadian heptathlete) and I had a good time. We were really relaxed between events, but serious when we needed to be, and I think the results reflected that."
Cotten also competed in the individual long jump competition, finishing with a best leap of 6.04 metres but failing to advance to the final round of 12 jumpers.
"I think that really helped me with the heptathlon, because I had a chance to get used to the stadium and the crowd and the cameras," she said.
There's still room for improvement, she added, citing the throws in particular.
"And it was really inspiring watching Damian and the others at the worlds," she said. "FISU is so close to the worlds in terms of protocol and importance that it's easy to imagine that as the next step."
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