Jan Felix Knobel of Germany competes during the Men's Decathlon Pole Vault of the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 9, 2012 (Getty images) © Copyright
The 24-year-old American only failed to clear the bar once during the competition and decided to retire after a successful first time jump at 5.20m, which was 10cm less than in his WR series in June. Eaton has gathered 7381 points after eight events and given that there is no injury for him in the last two events, the Olympic title will be his. Eaton also can get the Olympic record to his name as he is heading well over Tomas Sebrle’s (CZE) 8893 score from Athens 2004. To be able to achieve this he needs a 57 to 59-metre javelin result.
Fellow American, reigning World champion Trey Hardee, was not equally successful in the Pole Vault. The 28-year-old, competing at his first Olympics, could have made sure that he will win the silver medal, but a 4.80m clearance is not enough to ensure him the silver.
Hardee is still in second place, but has to do well in the javelin where he has a 68.99m PB from Daegu 2011 and a second best result of 68.00m in Berlin 2009, but has not exceeded 65 metres in any competition other than these. The double World champion is significantly slower than the other medal candidates for silver and bronze in the 1500m, but he has a cushion of more than 200 points before the last two events, so a throw around 57 to 58 metres in the next event will be enough to see that no-one is too close before the final event. Hardee has scored 7159 points for the second place.
German surprise name Rico Freimuth has been coming up in the rankings with others going down and the 24-year-old is in third place having added 4cm to his Pole Vault personal best with a 4.90m clearance. Freimuth has scored 6927p after eight events and is a decent javelin thrower and has a possibility to keep his medal place before the final event.
The real shock of the competition is Canadian Damian Warner, who had another good event clearing 4.70m, the second best result of his career behind a 4.80m PB in June 2012. The 22-year-old is now in fourth place with 6916p, just 11p behind Freimuth and is quite equal with the German in the last two events, so these two are really fighting for the bronze.
Ukrainian Oleksiy Kasyanov has 6901 points for the fifth place having jumped 4.60m in the Pole Vault, but he has only thrown the javelin 52 metres this season and anything even near that kind of result will drop him well off the medals in the next event.
Belgian Hans Van Alphen really tried his luck again, like in the High Jump, only managing to clear 4.60m with his third attempt. But the 30-year-old went on to jump 4.80m and that takes him to sixth place overall with 6889 points, just 38 points off the bronze medal. The Belgian decathlon record holder is incredibly good in the last two events and has thrown a 67.59m javelin personal best this season and is a 4:20 1500m runner. Van Alphen is a much better 1500m runner than Freimuth and Warner, so he only has to match their performances in the javelin to be able to overtake them in the last event for the bronze.
2004 Olympic bronze medallist Dmitriy Karpov (KAZ) cleared 5.10m to take him to seventh place at the moment with 6871 points. But his javelin usually flies about 50 metres and that means he will not be a medal contender after the next event.
Anothert Olympic medallist, Cuban Leonel Suarez, who won the bronze at the next Olympics from Karpov in Beijing, did not do as well as needed in the pole vault. The 24-year-old has a personal best 5.00m from Berlin 2009 and has cleared 4.86m this season, but couldn’t overcome 4.80m this time and with a 4.70m result in the seventh event he now has 6783 points for the eighth place. He is 144 points off the bronze medal position, but being the best javelin thrower in the field, Suárez still has a chance to win a medal. Easy calculation says that he has to win the best of the group in places 3-7 above him by about 10 metres to have a chance at a medal.
The best PB of this group belongs to Van Alphen, who has thrown 67.59m, but that only makes Suárez’s job possible, as his PB is 77.47m from 2009. The latest results of the Cuban in the javelin have been good, 71.99m in his only 2012 competition and 75.49m and 72.19m in 2011.
The best individual vaulters today were Gonzalo Barroilhet of Chile and Dutch Eelco Sintnicolaas of which the Chilean cleared 5.40m and the Dutch athlete 5.30m.
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF
2006 Evergreen Mutola