It is the toughest event in the Olympics, but it was hard for Ashton Eaton to get some spotlight on his victory in the decathlon on an evening when David Rudisha with his world record and Usain Bolt with his ‘legendary’ run in the 200m had grabbed all the attention.
Eaton, who had set the world record of 9,039 points at the US Olympic trials, was too tired by the time the last event, the 1500m came up, and could not better the Olympic record of 8,893 points set by Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic at Athens. The American finished with a total of 8,869 points, the eighth highest ever, at the Olympic Stadium on Thursday.
At 24, Eaton has become the second youngest winner of the event since Robert Zmelik, another Czech, accomplished the honour in 1992 when he was 23.
“I knew going into that race I was going to get the gold. I just thought what was going on? This is my dream but it has happened so fast I definitely didn’t do it by myself. Behind the scenes, there is my team, my coaches, there are a lot of people,” said Eaton gratefully.
With two-time world champion Trey Hardee (8,671) winning the silver with a season’s best effort, it was the fifth time that USA had got the 1-2 in the event in the Games, but for the first time since 1956.
Leonel Suarez (8523) of Cuba won his second bronze, following the one he won in Beijing.
Spotakova retains title
Following in the footsteps of her coach Jan Zelezny of the Czech Republic, Barbora Spotakova retained her Olympic gold with a fourth-round throw of 69.55m, the best this year in women’s javelin. She became the second woman to retain the javelin title after Ruth Fuchs of Germany (1972 and 1976).
Spotakova said she did not even ‘dare to think’ about winning the competition, but had felt strong with experience and good health. The event was badly timed at the fag end of the evening, and the stadium was actually emptying.
“My mum, my dad and my brother were in the crowd and when we were in the stadium it was empty except for 50 or 60 Czech flags. The stadium was only Czech. It was like being at home,” said Spotakova.
Germany’s Christine Obergfoll and Linda Stahl took the silver and bronze.
Joy for Taylor
The Americans had a lot more to cheer as they collected gold and silver in the men’s triple jump through world champion Christian Taylor (17.81m) and Will Claye (17.62m), while Fabrizio Donato (17.48m) won the bronze, Italy’s first medal in the event.
Claye, who had won the bronze in long jump, became the first man in 76 years to win medals in both the jumps at the same Olympics since Naoto Tajima of Japan won gold in the two jumps at Berlin in 1936.
“I am just extremely blessed. I have to give it to God. We are getting people to talk about the triple jump again. That is a goal, to get the triple jump exposure in the States,” said Taylor, who stressed that Claye was like his brother.