Gold medalist Ashton Eaton and silver medalist Trey Hardee pose for pictures… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
LONDON —Ashton Eaton became America's newest decathlon champion, winning three events while scoring 8,869 points to finish ahead of teammate Trey Hardee.
Eaton won the 100-meter dash, the long jump and the 400. He was asked if he was the greatest athlete in the world, seeing how Jamaica sprinter Usain Bolt proclaimed himself the carrier of that title earlier in the evening.
“Usain is clearly awesome in his own right,” Eaton said of the two-time 100 and 200 sprint champion. “I think that titles are for books and stuff. I just like doing what I’m doing.”
Eaton’s gold was the 13th for the U.S. in the event. Hardee had 8,671 points, giving the U.S. its fourth one-two finish in decathlon history.
Eaton, 24, entered the second and last day of competition with a 220-point lead over Hardee, but it dropped to 99 points after Hardee’s discus throw of 48.26 meters was almost six meters longer than Eaton’s best.
The next event presented some nice symmetry for Eaton, not that he ever reflected on his awkward early college days.
He cleared 5.2 meters in the pole vault, well ahead of Hardee’s 4.8 meters, establishing another comfortable lead of 222 points, although he was injured slightly on his last attempt.
“My quad was talking to me,” he said.
He threw a personal-best 61.96 meters on his third and final javelin throw. In the 1,500, the only real race was whether he would break the Olympic record, which he didn't.
Hardee, 28, had reconstructive surgery on his right elbow last year but maintained a strong hold on second place after finishing second in the javelin throw.
“It’s something that Ashton and I, when we’re 80 and 90 years old, our grandkids are going to puff out their chests a little bit,” he said.
Cuba’s Leonel Suarez won the bronze medal with 8,523 points.
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