FIVE points separated St Kevins young gun Sebastian Reyneke and Melbourne Uni's Christian Paynter in the open decathlon at the weekend's Athletics Victoria multi-event championships in Bendigo.
Reyneke held a 70-point buffer as athletes lined up for the 1500m, the last of a gruelling 10-event program run across Saturday and Sunday.
A brilliant time of 4:33.64 by Paynter earned 721 points, but Reyneke's desperate dive at the finish and time of 4:43.86 was enough to claim the championship.
Victorious in the under-20 decathlon in Bendigo a year earlier, Reyneke's jumping prowess was a highlight as he achieved an overall score of 7262 points.
He led the way in long jump, 7.03m; high jump, 2.04m; and pole vault, 4.40m.
Reyneke's campaign kicked off by winning the 100m in 11.25.
By the end of day one he had scored 3853 points, but Paynter was in touch on 3736.
An incredible mark of 59.77 metres by Paynter at the javelin put the heat right back on.
Reyneke held his nerve in the 1500m to claim gold in the open decathlon at his first attempt.
The 20-year-old said the jumps were always going to be a key to his chances of victory.
"High jump had gone really well in training, and to gain a personal best (5cm) in pole vault competition was a great result," Reyneke said.
Reyneke's focus in his early years in athletics was on pole vault and javelin, but he has developed into one of the country's best prospects in decathlon.
"I am always looking to improve all the jumps, and also to be stronger in the throws."
Reyneke said lockdown because of COVID made it difficult to train.
"I did a fair amount of distance running at the footy ground close to home, and also trained at the gym when I could."
In August he will be bound for the United States on a scholarship at the University of South Alabama.
"Competition like this is another big stepping stone toward the ultimate goal of the Olympics," said Reyneke.
Next major focus for the Stephen Cain-coached athlete will be on the state championships, and then the Australian multi-event titles in Sydney.
Athlete and coach hold the Bendigo venue record for under-20 and open decathlon.
Cain's score of 7362 was set in December, 2019.
Bendigo athletes were in great form at their home track.
South Bendigo's Abbey Hromenko scored 3722 points to be the under-20 champion as clubmate James Woods was runner-up in the under-20 decathlon on 5977.
The 50-54 years Masters decathlon was dominated by Justin Hanrahan from Collingwood Harriers.
A dual world champion, Hanrahan's score of 7017 points broke the Australian Masters record for the 50-54 class held by Eaglehawk's Terry Hicks.
South Bendigo's Greg Hilson scored 4976 points to be runner-up in the 50-54 showdown as Eaglehawk's David Chisholm was third on 4523 points.
Another world masters decathlon champion, Geoff Shaw from Bendigo Harriers scored 6816 points as he claimed the 70-74 years title.
Trudy Haines, mother of Abbey Hromenko, tallied up 2775 points to claim the 50-54 years Masters title.
Eaglehawk's Kathryn Heagney scored 3448 points to be the 70-74 years titleholder.
Monique Gavriliadis from Bendigo Harriers scored 3580 points to be 8th in the under-18 heptathlon.
In the under-16s event, Harriet Gall from Harriers scored 3552 points to be 8th as South Bendigo's Emma Orme was 10th on 2750 points.
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