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Melnychenko heads to Sopot with the favourite's tag
Hanna Melnychenko will find herself in a new position when the IAAF World Indoor Championships take place in Sopot next month - as the gold medallist the rest have to beat.
A year on from finishing third at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Gothenburg, Ukrainian Melnychenko is flourishing as a world champion after her heptathlon glory in Moscow last summer.
And from two podium finishes in 2013, the immediate future looks good for Melnychenko after a winter where she has so far achieved personal bests in both the 60m hurdles and shot put.
Melnychenko leads the women’s pentathlon field for these World Indoor Championships in which the multi-event entrants are decided by invite only.
There will be an extremely strong European presence with Belarusian Yana Maksimava, Nadine Broersen, of the Netherlands, Ukrainian champion Alina Fyodorova and Poland’s Karolina Tyminska.
Melnychenko made 2013 a year she would never forget, starting with her excellent pentathlon in Gothenburg where she scored 4604 points as France’s Ida Antoinette Nana Djimou won gold with 4666 and Maksimava finished second with 4658.
By the time of Moscow, she was among the contenders, if not the favourite, for the heptathlon, but produced the performance of her life with 6586 to beat Canada’s Brianne Theisen-Eaton by 56 points.
And now she has raised her level of consistency once again with her new best marks this winter, both on January 27 in Zaporizhzhya, where she ran 8.20 in the 60m hurdles and launched the shot 14.19m. In comparison, she clocked 8.27 for the hurdles and threw the shot a distance of 13.82m in Gothenburg.