In an event often fraught with danger the 110m Hurdles can often provide a rude awakening for any less then fully switched on decathletes.
The lead two athletes – Trey Hardee and Ashton Eaton – both survived the challenge, which is the primary objective, although neither will be totally satisfied with their performance.
Eaton the overnight leader recorded the fastest time of the competition 13.85 (994pts) running into a slight headwind. Not bad, of course, but some 0.50 off his personal best and a little shake of the head as he walked off the track summed up his feelings. Hardee fared a little better - at least compared to his quickest ever time - registering 13.97 to finish second behind his countryman in the opening heat.
Hardee made the slicker start and led Eaton to the first hurdle. However, the event leader demonstrated his superior basic speed and by halfway had established a clear lead. This was, though, a far from a technically efficient performance and he looked a little ragged clattering through several hurdles. Hardee, too, the defending champion was far from silky smooth.
In summary, though, Eaton had stretched his overall lead on second placed Hardee to 69 points with a cumulative six-event points total of 5440.
Oleksiy Kasyanov maintained his bronze medal position in the overall standings, although he lost more ground on the lead two following a 14.65 clocking for 892pts in heat two. The Ukrainian athlete has an overall total on 5202 and sits 47 points clear of fourth placed Thomas ven der Plaetsen of Belgium, who registered (14.87) in heat three.
The big mover, though, was Leonel Suarez who crept up from seventh to fifth in the overall standings. His season’s best of 14.24 (937pts) may have conceded points to the two leaders but the Cuban’s comparatively better performance in terms of the margin of his performance to his personal best is perhaps of most significance.
He holds six event points total of 5139 and with his strongest events to come the 2009 World silver medallist will surely be a factor.
The biggest loser of the event was Aleksey Drozdov. The Russian slipped from his overnight sixth position in the standings to 11th after a modest 15.49 performance.
Steve Landells for the IAAF