Ashton Eaton has kept up an American tradition. He has added his name to the long list of Americans who have held decathlon world records.
After having set a world record of 9039 points in winning the US Olympic trials, Eaton should be the overwhelming favourite to take the decathlon gold in the London Olympics to add to the list of his illustrious predecessors from the US.
“I don't think it changes anything for the Olympics,” Trey Hardee said. “It was his before we started yesterday and it still is now,” said the world champion who finished second behind Eaton in the Eugene trials.
It only proved once again the camaraderie that exists among decathletes.
Even when they compete they admire each other; even when they contest they goad each other on. Hardee is happy to leave the focus on Eaton now.
So, too, defending Olympic champion Bryan Clay, who fell in the high hurdles and finished way down at 12th in Eugene.
“The kid is phenomenal,” said Clay. “There's no other way to describe him.”
The kid, to borrow Clay’s description, is 24-years-old and is only the second man in history to cross 9000 points. Czech Roman Sebrle’s previous record of 9026 was set in Gotzis, the Mecca of combined events, on May 27, 2001.
Eaton won seven of the 10 events during the US Nationals. He recorded personal bests in four events: 100m (10.21s), long jump (8.23m), pole vault (5.30m) and 1500m (4:14.48). He needed to better his PB of 4:18.94 by 2.57s in the 1500 to get the world record. He did that.
Eaton did it in his home ground, so to say.
Hayward Field, Eugene, happens to be his college field where he has scored some of the memorable wins of his career.
He is a two-time NCAA champion and took the silver at the Daegu World championships last year. He also won the title at the World Indoors early this year.
After a gap of nearly 20 years, the decathlon world record is back with the US.
The last American to hold it was Dan O’Brien in September, 1992. An array of great American athletes has held the world record before him, Bob Mathias and Rafer Johnson in the 1950s, Bill Toomey in the late 1960s and Bruce Jenner in the 1970s among them.
Jenner capped his three records with the Olympic title in Montreal in 1976.