TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Decathlete Gonzalo Barroilhet used outstanding performances in the shot put and high jump to offset an otherwise uneven first day performance Wednesday at London’s Olympic Stadium.
Barroilhet’s career-best shot put throw of 14.49m (47-6.50) and a 2.05m (6-8.75) high jump – just .01 off another career-best – helped him salvage struggles in the long jump and 400 meters. Florida State’s record-holder in the decathlon with 8,024 points, closed the first day with 3,962 and sits 23rd from an initial field of 35 competitors in the 10-event, two-day test of strength, skill and stamina.
“Decathlon is an event of ups and downs,” Florida State multi-events coach Dennis Nobles said. “You can have good performance and a bad performance in different events on the same day. Today Gonzalo did a little bit of everything. Two events (long jump and 400) sub-par, one event (100m) fairly average and two events (shot put and high jump) when he was at his best.
“By the end of the day, through all the highs and lows, and a few more gray hairs for his coach, he’s only 50 points off his best first day ever.”
Fortunately for Barroilhet, the five second-day events include some of his best, highlighted by the 110-meter hurdles and the pole vault. His personal best in the 110 hurdles (13.78) ranks fifth among those in the field, while he has the second-best pole vault PR 5.45m of any entrant. Big performances in those two events could well rocket the Chilean toward the top 10. He is currently just 182 points out of 10th place.
Barroilhet has the good fortune of competing another day, which is not the case with a pair of Seminoles who were eliminated in semifinal round action Wednesday.
Great Britain’s Hannah England was poised to grab one of five automatic qualifying spots from the first heat in the 1500m run with 200 meters to go but was unable to close the deal, sliding to ninth place (4:06.35) in a strategic race. England, the runner-up at the 2011 World Championships, will have company on the sidelines during the finals. USA’s Jennifer Simpson, who beat England for the World title last year, was last in the second heat.
“Timing is everything in this sport and Hannah, just like Ciaran [O’Lionaird], couldn't get back to her World Championship form after missing much of the season due to injury,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “They will both be back to their best next season, I'm sure.”
Maurice Mitchell, who emerged as one of the world’s top 200-meter runners during his final two seasons at Florida State, appeared to have little left to give coming off the curve in the third and final heat of the 200 semifinal. The two-time NCAA champion ran strong through the turn but faded badly over the final 60 meters to place fourth in 20.56.
“Maurice has had an incredibly long season and it showed today,” Braman said. “There aren't many current-season collegians at the Olympic Games and now you know why. Maurice's future is incredibly bright and we're proud he's a Seminole.”
In addition to Barroilhet, who will get his second day of competition started in the 110-meter hurdles at 4 a.m. (ET), the Borlee twins – Jonathan and Kevin – will try and get their Belgium 4x400 relay team into the finals from the opening heats. The Borlees, who were fifth and sixth, respectively, in the 400-meter finals, helped the Belgian 4x400 relay team to the finals and a national record at last year’s World Championships.