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Eaton Claims Gold in Decathlon at World Championships

By Steve Ritchie / Special to the Bend Bulletin
August 11, 2013


Ashton Eaton

Moscow, Russia - Ashton Eaton came to Moscow with one goal in mind - to win his first world championships gold medal in the decathlon. Mission accomplished.

Eaton realized his goal on Sunday, winning the title with 8809 points thanks to a steady, workmanlike performance on the second day of the decathlon competition.

While Eaton didn't set a record here in warm and humid Moscow, he did something no one has ever done before - follow up an Olympic gold medal
performance with a victory at the following year's world championship.

Afterward, Eaton expressed satisfaction and a bit of relief.

"It feels good," Eaton said. "It was the only thing I had left on my list to do. Now I have done everything there is to do in the multi-events. I'm very excited just to be able to be here. This is what I look forward to, this is what I put in all my training for, and it is good to come away a winner."

Eaton was pressed throughout the first day's competition by US teammate Gunnar Nixon, and led Nixon by just nine points after day one. But, Eaton's main competition on Sunday came from German Michael Schrader, who ended up second with 8670 points.

Day two started with the 110 meter hurdles, one of Eaton's better events, and he took advantage, running 13.72, nearly two-tenths of a second faster than the next-fastest competitor. Eaton's time was just .08 seconds off his season best and .37 off his lifetime best in the event, a good sign for him as hurdling was something that earlier this summer aggravated his hamstring injury. It also gave him some breathing room over Nixon, who ran 14.57 in the hurdles, and the rest of the field.

Eaton's performance in the third event of the day, the pole vault, kept him in the lead. He missed once at his opening height but then found a nice groove, clearing the next three heights on his first attempts. Eaton then had a big second-attempt clearance at 17-3/4, which brought him 972 points for the event, propelling him into a seemingly safe 181 point lead over Schrader with two events to go. However, it looked like he might lose some, or even all of his lead in the next event, the javelin throw.

"I was sweating bullets because I saw Michael (Schrader) throw over 65 meters (213 feet)," Eaton said. "I threw 57 (187 feet) on my first throw and that wasn't good, and next throw was obviously terrible." Eaton had just one throw remaining, and needed a good one. His coach, Harry Marra, wasn't worried.

"As good as an athlete as Ashton Eaton is, he's a better person. He's just a great, all-around kid. I know Ashton well enough that I knew he could see what his body was doing. I said this kid is going to figure it out."

Eaton thought back to the world meet in 2011, when he put himself in a position to have to come from behind in the 1500 meters to get the silver medal, and he didn't want to put himself in that position again.

"I didn't have any technique on that last throw - that was just pure drive to do it."

He launched the javelin 212-8, just a few inches less than Schrader's throw, which preserved the sizeable lead."That was a big throw," Marra said.

With victory all but guaranteed, Eaton and Marra decided to go for 8800 points. To get it, Eaton would have to run under 4:31 in the 1500. He ran 4:29.80. Schrader gave Eaton the ultimate compliment from a competitor afterward, saying, "I told Ashton he is unbeatable so silver is the perfect medal for me."

Instead of relaxing and savoring the victory, Eaton and Marra will both be back at Luzhniki Stadium tomorrow when Brianne Theisen-Eaton, Ashton's wife of one month, competes in the heptathlon for Canada. Marra coaches Theisen-Eaton.

"Watching the multi-event (competition) is way worse than competing," Eaton said. "Especially when you have a vested interest."I will be back at the track tomorrow morning at 8 am."

 
 

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