LYUDMILA KOVALOVA didn’t get the best of starts to the Hexham International Combined Events Meeting – but she came through strongly to win the heptathlon.
The 32-year-old Ukrainian’s kit went missing at the airport, so she had to postpone the start of her first event – 100 metres hurdles – by an hour.
And though she had to negotiate the barriers on her own, she produced the fastest time of the day which settled her down for the rest of the competition.
Kovalova (pictured), who also won the Hexham event in 2002, was helped by the withdrawal of Laurien Hoos (Netherlands), who injured her groin in the long jump, and America’s Heather Biglow who no-heighted in the high jump.
Joost van Bennekom (Netherlands) had no such problems on his way to winning the decathlon as he posted the second-highest score ever at the Hexham meet, behind Dean Macey.
The tall Dutchman opened his account with a 10.83sec 100m, before going on to total 7,760 points, a season’s best but still below the qualifying standard for next month’s World Championships.
Despite not training for the event, Gateshead’s former English Schools’ 400m champion Lewis Robson posted a total of 6,527 points for fourth place which puts him third in the UK rankings after producing pbs in the shot, discus and javelin.