Ashton Eaton took a huge leap forward in his quest to become the world's greatest athlete after winning the U.S. Decathlon title with a world-leading 8729-point tally in Eugene on Friday (24).
The 23-year-old was never threatened en route to his first national title, as he added a whopping 272 points to his previous best of 8457 set last year. The mark elevates Eaton, the World indoor record holder in the Heptathlon, to the no. 5 position all-time among U.S. decathletes and onto the doorstep of the world's all-time top-10. And it also puts the rising star into solid medal contention at the upcoming IAAF World Championships, Daegu, Korea, 27 August - 4 September.
“I didn’t expect to score that high," said Eaton, who earlier this year broke the World indoor record in the Heptathlon. "I didn’t get any big marks. It was constant. My goal in Korea is to win. There’s no timetable when to set the American record.”
Carrying a sizable 408-point lead over Olympic champion Bryan Clay into the second day, Eaton picked up with a fast 13.52 in the 110m Hurdles, the fastest ever by a U.S decathlete. He followed up with a 41.58m in the Discus Throw - the seventh best in the competition - and a 5.05m clearance in the Pole Vault. Next was a 56.19m in the Javelin Throw, a career best, before he ended the competition with a 4:24.10 run in the 1500m.
Disaster however, struck Clay in the high hurdles when a calf injury forced him to stop midway through the race.
“I sprained my calf a little bit on the hurdles," Clay said. "A tough setback, but I'm going to get back to training and step it up in the next few meets."
“The other athletes in the decathlon just told me after the hurdles that they’ve all been there," Clay, 31, said. "It’s one of those things and I will just move on to what’s next. It’s important to keep perspective, it’s not the end of my career.”
Clay already has the World Championships 'A' standard, and may still appeal to USA Track & Field to gain a berth on the team. Reigning World champion Trey Hardee didn't compete in each of the 10 events but with automatic entry to the Daegu squad secured as the defending gold medallist, he wasn't required by U.S. federation qualifying rules to finish among the top-three.
Eaton's winning margin was a massive 718 points over distant runner-up Ryan Harlan, who tallied 8011 points, his best score since 2006. Miller Moss, who was third at the NCAA championships earlier this month, finished third with 7878 points.
USATF and Bob Ramsak for the IAAF