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Marsha Mark and the Heptathlon

Bernard Linley Track & Field Retrospect by Bernard Linley :: 02.10.2017

Marsh Mark is the super star of the heptathlon in Trinidad and Tobago athletics.

While the heptathlon had replaced the pentathon as the combined event for women in 1981, the first local heptathlon was contested in 1993 and the winner scored just 1717 points. In 1994 Mark, competing in the USA, established the national record at 4998 points.

Over the next decade she bettered this no less than six times: 5137 (1995), 5487 (1997), 5706 (1998), 5750 (2000), 5934 and 5962 (2004). And during that period she won the CAC Games silver medal in 1998, the year in which she was 6th at the Commonwealth Games, and competed at two editions of the Olympic Games (placing 22nd in 2000, and 25th in 2004).

Mark did jumps and throws before leaving Trinidad for the USA, where between 1993 and 1998 she specialized in social work studies at Ricks College and Brigham Young University. There she was introduced to the heptathlon and continued working at the seven events (100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200m on the first day, long jump, javelin and 800m on the second). Her efforts were amply rewarded by the results and records mentioned above.

Following the 2004 Athens Olympics, where she set the current national record of 5962 points, Mark retired from active competition. Then eleven years later she returned to the track, recording 4793 points in 2015 and 4866 points in 2016, but did not achieve her goal of competing at the Rio Olympic Games.

Only four other TT athletes have scored more than 5000 points:
A.  5337  Tyra Gittens (2016)
B.  5269  Khemani Roberts (2017)
C.  5224  Anna-Lee Walcott (2000)
D.  5025  Kechelle Douglas (2016)

Besides Walcott, aunt of 2012 Olympic javelin champion Keshorn Walcott, the other three are still competing.

The challenge, for them and other TT heptathletes, now must be to cross the 6000 points barrier and in the process break the national record set by Marsha Mark over 13 years ago.

To place the above in a global context, it should be noted that the world record is 7291 points set by American Jackie Joyner-Kersee when taking Olympic gold in Seoul 1988, and that the 2016 Olympic title was won with 6810 points by Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium.

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