London Olympics 2012: Ashton Eaton sets world record in decathlon at trials

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We’ll see in six weeks in London, where he’ll go in as the favorite, along with Hardee, who finished 656 points back and was every bit as much a fan as an opponent when the last race was over.

“I don’t think it changes anything for the Olympics,” Hardee said. “It was his before we started yesterday and it still is now. It hasn’t sunk in for Ashton. For me, it’s something down the road that I’ll tell my kids, my friends, my nephews about. I’ll say, ‘See, I saw it. I’ve got the pictures to prove it.’”

While Eaton earned his place in history, the women’s 100 final provided a much less-concrete result.

After a long review, race officials determined Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh finished in a dead-heat for third place, each at 11.068 seconds. Only three spots are available at the Olympics and USA Track and Field officials huddled late into the night, trying to solve a problem for which there is no written solution. Carmelita Jeter won the race in 10.92.

Elsewhere, Lolo Jones’ leaned at the finish line to earn the third and final Olympic spot in the 100 hurdles by 0.04 seconds. Dawn Harper won in 12.73. Tyson Gay made it through his first 100 heat cleanly, while LaShawn Merritt, Jeremy Wariner and Sanya Richards-Ross all advanced in the 400.

Nobody, however, covered more ground, or did it better, than Eaton.

He opened his pursuit Friday by setting world-best marks for the decathlon in his first two events, the 100 (10.21 seconds) and long jump (27 feet). He had a mark of 46 feet, 7 1/4 inches in shot put, cleared 6-8 3/4 in the high jump and ran the 400 in a driving rainstorm in 46.70 seconds to finish the first day in the mix for the world record.

He returned Saturday to more dreary weather, but didn’t falter. The results: 13.70 seconds in the 110 hurdles, 140-5 inches in the discus, and 17-4 1/2 in the pole vault. His javelin throw of 193-1 meant he would need to top his personal best to set the world record.

The sun finally peaked out shortly before Eaton made it to the starting line, illuminating his green and black shirt and neon orange shoes. He waved to the crowd, toed the starting line, took an early lead, stayed on pace the entire time and crossed the line with nearly 2 seconds to spare.

Eaton also overtook O'Brien’s American record of 8,891 points, which he set in 1992 — nine years before Sebrle became the first man to break 9,000 points.

“He didn’t have any letdowns,” O'Brien said. “It’s real easy when you’re way ahead to have that letdown. That’s what separates him from even myself. I don’t know if I would’ve run my guts out in the 1,500.”

Eaton’s record adds another chapter to a rich history of decathlon success in the United States.

Jim Thorpe won the first Olympic decathlon in 1912. In 1976, Jenner put the event squarely in the spotlight, winning the Montreal Olympics and becoming a celebrity when he returned home. He was on the front of the Wheaties box back then, and the fact that he’s still on the front of it now — as part of a retro marketing campaign — speaks volumes about how far the event’s stature has fallen over the last few decades.

But that hardly diminishes this latest accomplishment.

“It pleases me to be in that fraternity with a kid that carries on a great tradition in a very classy way,” Johnson said.

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