Sharon Day-Monroe entered the IAAF World Indoor Championships favored to win her first world track and field title in the women’s five-event pentathlon.
But a subpar showing in the long jump, an event that has constantly plagued Day-Monroe throughout her multi-events career, cost her a shot at a medal Friday in Sopot, Poland.
Day-Monroe entered the world meet as the favorite after setting an American record and world-leading score of 4,805 points at the U.S. championships Feb. 21 in Albuquerque, N.M.
On Friday, she finished fourth with 4,718 points. The Netherlands’ Nadine Broersen set a world-leading mark of 4,830 points to edge Canada’s Brianne Theisen Eaton, who set a national record of 4,768 points. The Ukraine’s Alina Fodorova held off Day-Monroe for third, scoring 4,728 points to Day-Monroe’s 4,718.
Day-Monroe began Friday’s competition running the 60-meter hurdles in 8.43 seconds for 1,032 points. She then cleared 6 feet, one-quarter inch in the high jump for 1,029 points and threw the shot put 49-0 1⁄2 for another 858 points.
In the long jump, however, Day-Monroe tallied only 831 points on a best of 19-53⁄4. The three women who eventually finished ahead of Day-Monroe all scored 890 or more points in the long jump, and Fodorova especially used the long jump to her advantage over Day-Monroe with a best of 20-61⁄2 for 930 points.
Day-Monroe almost made up the deficit in the 800, the final event of the pentathlon, when she ran a sizzling time of 2 minutes, 9.80 seconds for 968 points.
Theisen Eaton is the the wife of American world record-holder Ashton Eaton. Both are coached by former Atascadero resident Harry Marra.
Ahead of today’s 60 hurdles, pole vault and concluding 1,000 meters, Eaton is only one point shy of his world record pace of 3,654 points after four events.
Gold and silver is already what track’s leading couple won at the world outdoor championships in Moscow last year just after their wedding.
Never, though, had they competed for gold in such close proximity as at the Ergo Arena on the Baltic Sea.
“It is all going on very close together,” said Theisen Eaton, who faulted on her first two attempts in the long jump. Ahead of her last attempt, she said she sought eye contact with Ashton, who was competing across the hall.
“That is the exact moment when I looked for kind of comfort because I felt scared, you know. It’s great competing with him.”
Eaton said: “I just told her to relax, and it’s just like practice and no big deal.”
She nailed her last chance, and that set her up for a scorching 800 meters that yielded silver.
The United States already had a first chance to celebrate gold Friday.
In the men’s shot put, Ryan Whiting won his second straight world indoor title with a heave of 72-4 1⁄4, edging David Storl of Germany by almost a foot.
It was not all smiles for the Americans, though.
Nick Symmonds, who took silver at the outdoor world championships last year, finished fifth in his 800 heat and failed to advance. In the women’s 800, 2012 junior world champion Ajee Wilson also finished fourth in her heat and was eliminated.
In other events during the opening session of the three-day championship, former high jump champion Blanka Vlasic of Croatia scraped through as the last qualifier for today’s final.
Genzebe Dibaba showed off her running potential by cruising into Sunday’s final of the 3,000.
“I don’t think I’ll have a hard time taking gold,” said the Ethiopian, who has already set two world records and a world best this season.