04 March 2007
Roman’s Empire Remains Strong
Roman Sebrle secured a hat-trick of titles but he needed to draw upon all his competitive instincts in the 1000m to overcome the resilient challenge of Aleksandr Pogorelov in a thrilling competition.
Less than six weeks after the Czech narrowly escaped death after a javelin plunged into his shoulder during a training trip to South Africa the Czech great once again proved the supreme competitor.
Pogorelov overcome Sebrle’s narrow overnight advantage to open up a 32-point lead, which equated to 2.8 seconds going into the final event the 1000m. But the Russian always faced a monumental challenge to secure the gold medal because he had a personal best more than 14 seconds slower than Sebrle.
The Olympic decathlon champion quickly raced to the front pack and after two laps more than 15m separated the pair. On lap three Sebrle drifted back to fifth but he was gradually extending his advantage over Pogorelov and such was the Czech’s lead after three of the five laps he could afford to relax knowing the gold medal was in his pocket.
Sebrle crossed the line in seventh (2:45.33), behind winner Frederic Xhonneux of Belgium, racking up 810 points from the final discipline to win the title with an overall total points haul of 6196.
A disappointed Pogorelov finished down in 11th in 2:55.47 but he can be proud of the fact he pushed Sebrle every inch of the way during the gruelling seven-event competition.
Andrei Krauchanka, the 21-year-old Belarus athlete, also performed with distinction recording 2:41.85 to secure the bronze medal with a final points tally of 6090.
But the 32-year-old Sebrle deserves all the plaudits particularly as we were fortunate to see him in Birmingham. The wound he sustained with the javelin in late-January required 11 stitches, but if it had landed just 1cm higher an struck bone, tendon and muscle it would have spelled the end of his glittering career.
Sebrle admitted winning his third successive title was a tough assignment. “It was really hard to win this competition. However, I was full of confidence going into the final event as I knew I could make up the points that I had lost in the high jump and pole vault. People have asked me about my shoulder injury but I only had to take a couple of days out of training because of that. In fact, I took more time off because of a calf injury.”