BEIJING (AP) - Ashton Eaton is in good shape, maybe even his best shape in quite a while. Mentally, he’s as strong as ever, too.
Watch out world record.
The Olympic decathlon champion believes his best-ever mark could be in jeopardy at the world championships. His quest begins Friday with the 100-meter run, the first of 10 events over the two-day competition.
Eaton’s record stands at 9,039 points, a total he reached at the U.S. Olympic trials for the 2012 London Games. He went on to win a gold medal.
Last season, Eaton didn’t compete in any decathlon events. Instead, he dabbled in the 400-meter hurdles, which isn’t part of the decathlon program, just to keep his workouts fresh.
“Physically, I can say I’m very capable of (the record) right now,” said Eaton, who will wear a cooling hood designed by his sponsor in between events. “If it comes down to the last event, the 1,500 meters, I’m going for it. There’s no question.”
For a week, Eaton has been a spectator. He watched his wife, Brianne Theisen-Eaton, struggle early in the heptathlon, only to rebound to earn silver. He watched his American teammates stumble to a slow start in the medal count.
He’s sick of watching.
Eaton had a suggestion for the meet organizers: Put the decathlon first again, like in Moscow when he won gold. That way, he could kick back and enjoy the action.
“When I’m later in the competition, I get antsy,” the 27-year-old Eaton said. “I’m seeing everybody else go and achieve things. It’s like I’m just twiddling my thumbs.”
He will certainly have his hands full against Trey Hardee, the 2011 world champion. These two have a robust but friendly rivalry, conversing all the time through Twitter.
“We all understand that this isn’t about me beating you and you beating me. It’s about each individual competing against himself,” Eaton said. “That’s why you cheer. What you do is you’re using the other competitors to push yourself, because it’s so hard to push yourself.
“It does help to have somebody like Trey.”
Hardee feels the same way.
“I don’t need to check in with him to know he’s training hard,” Hardee said. “He feels that way about me.”
Here are some things to know about Day 7 of the world championships:
Usain Bolt won the 100 and 200. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce captured the 100. It’s up to Elaine Thompson, Sherone Simpson or Veronica Campbell-Brown to win the 200 and give the Jamaicans a sweep of the individual sprint events.
TALKING SWEEP, PART II
The American 100-meter hurdlers aren’t shying away from talking about a possible medal sweep. All four easily advanced the semifinals Friday. The final is set for later that night. “It’s not taboo to say, because we know we’ve come in ranked well and are executing our races,” 2008 Beijing Olympic gold medalist Dawn Harper-Nelson said. “It comes down to being mentally tough. We’re ready to go. Now, when the gun goes off, it’s about who is going to shoot out of those blocks and get it done.”
LONG AND SHORT OF IT
There will be a new women’s long jump champion after Brittney Reese of the United States failed to make it out of qualification. Ivana Spanovic of Serbia had the best leap at 6.91 meters (22 feet, 8 inches) in qualification. American jumper Tianna Bartoletta has the best mark in the world this season at 7.12 (23-4 1/2).
ON TO THE SEMIS
2010 Commonwealth Games champion Silas Kiplagat of Kenya had the fastest time in the first round of the men’s 1,500 meters. The semifinals are Friday and the final Sunday. The Kenyans are in good position to add to their medal count, with Timothy Cheruiyot, Elijah Motonei Manangoi and defending champion Asbel Kiprop also advancing.
World-record holder Liu Hong will try to bring home the first gold medal for China during the 20-kilometer walk. She recently set the record 1 hour, 24 minutes, 38 seconds in June.
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