USA's Eaton wins decathlon, Bolt impressed
LONDON - Ashton Eaton of the United States produced a totally dominant performance over two grueling days to claim the Olympic decathlon gold medal on Thursday.
The world record holder amassed 8,869 points in the 10-discipline event, to finish 198pts ahead of team-mate and world champion Trey Hardee (8,671), with Cuba's Leonel Suarez claiming bronze (8,523).
Eaton's total was the second best in Olympic history behind the 8,893pts notched up by Roman Sebrle in 2004. The Czech veteran was an early casualty here, dropping out after the very first event through injury.
"I worked really hard for this, I just can't believe it," said Eaton. "When I think about all the work I've put in, all the guys have put in a lot of work.
"I wonder why I deserved the gold because all these other guys worked so hard as well. It's like a family out there, all wanting to succeed."
But Eaton then revealed a hard-nosed streak needed to succeed at the top table of professional sports.
"I knew going into that race I was going to get the gold. I just thought 'what's going on?'. This is my dream but it's happened so fast," said Eaton.
The Oregon-based Eaton built his lead on Wednesday's first day of action, setting lead scores in the 100m (10.35sec), long jump (8.03m) and 400m (46.90sec), with a second-ranked high jump performance (2.05m) making up for a rather poorer 14.66m in the shot put.
The 24-year-old had bagged a total of 7,381 pts after the first three events of the second day's action at the packed Olympic Stadium.
He was beaten by two-hundredths of a second to the leading time in the 110m hurdles by Hardee, who clocked a very respectable 13.54sec.
Hardee maintained the pressure with a best of 48.26m in the discus, which netted him 834pts. Eaton, however, could manage only 42.53m for 716pts.
In the pole vault, Eaton cleared 5.20 metres, with Hardee going over at 4.80m, leaving Eaton with a decisive 222-point lead with just the javelin and 1,500m remaining in the evening session.
Germany's Rico Freimuth stood in third place after eight events, with a total of 6,927 points.
The javelin saw Eaton manage a best of 61.96m, Hardee clawing back 71pts.
But Eaton ran a safe 4:33.59 in the final event, the 400m, preferring to make sure of a steady finish than go for the Olympic record.
Hardee's 8,671pts was a season's best, while Suarez's massive 76.94m in the javelin and fifth-fastest 1,500m guaranteed him the final podium spot.
World champion Usain Bolt also praised Eaton's performance, backing down from his declaration that he was the world's best athlete after his 200m victory.
"I'm a great athlete, but to do 10 events, especially the 1500m, I have got to give it to him!" Bolt said. - Rappler.com