- Associated Press - Saturday, March 8, 2014

SOPOT, Poland (AP) - Ashton Eaton won yet another gold medal and again proved himself the “world’s greatest athlete,” the title which traditionally goes to the best multi-event competitor in athletics.

Yet after winning the heptathlon at the world indoor championships on Saturday, all Eaton could do was slam his fist in frustration on the track’s side railing. He called himself “weak” because he missed beating his own world record by 1.18 seconds over the closing 1,000 meters.

“I don’t know, I’m just mentally weak,” Eaton said, feeling he had not pushed himself through enough pain and fatigue to break the heptathlon world record again.

“I thought I was more tired than I actually was. And to me that is just being weak. I should push through being tired. It is ridiculous,” he said.

Eaton was effectively competing only against himself during the two-day seven-event competition, chasing the world record points total he set at the world indoors in Istanbul in 2012.

The defending champion held a massive winning margin of 329 points over Andrei Krauchanka of Belarus, while Thomas Van der Plaetsen of Belgium took bronze.

Eaton finished the closing 1,000 in 2 minutes, 34.72 seconds for a total of 6,632 points. The record stands at 6,645.

Missed it by 13 points in a 6,000-plus competition.

Still, what he considered defeat, not getting the world record, will teach him a lot. “I am not a robot, but I try,” Eaton said.

Eaton still remembers the pain of losing to American compatriot Trey Hardee at the outdoor world championships in Daegu three years ago, and went back to the drawing board to prepare for the London Olympics.

“I learned so much from failure,” he said. Eaton has not looked back since, winning everything in sight.

He intends to take a break from the bruising multi-event disciplines and give himself respite with a season of 400 hurdles.

It is another way to deal with a setback and come back stronger for the 2015 world championships in Beijing and the Rio Olympics the following year.

And, perhaps worst of all, he doesn’t even feel the toughest in his own household anymore. Late Friday, his Canadian wife Brianne Theisen Eaton took silver in the pentathlon.

“Right now, Brianne is way tougher than I am,” he said.

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