Daegu, Korea - World leader Ashton Eaton bounced back from third to take the overall lead following an impressive display in the fifth and final event of Day One.
The American is regarded as a gifted one-lap sprinter - as a lifetime best of 46.28 attests - and although he could not quite match that effort today a heat one winning time of 46.99 was good enough for 959 points.
Eaton running blind from lane six got out of the blocks impressively and held a massive lead coming off the final bend. Possibly paying for his early pace and in windy conditions he began to tie up down the home stretch but still recorded a sub-47 second time.
Hardee running from lane three also performed solidly to stop the clock in 48.37. He placed fourth in the race and was just 0.25 shy of his season’s best for the distance. He hauled in 891pts to retain second but it is Eaton who will go to bed tonight in gold medal position with a handy 53-point lead on Hardee his US team-mate as 4446 points plays 4393.
Aleksey Drozdov is no 400m specialist and it was little surprise the event leader after the High Jump was relegated to sixth on 4257 points The Russian finished in sixth in the fourth heat and collected a modest haul of 753pts – albeit in a season’s best 51.35.
Oleksiy Kasyanov of Ukraine hit back to move from fifth into the provisional bronze position on 4310pts. He produced a highly respectable 48.46 time in heat one to plunder 887pts and will face a big challenge to hold on to that position in Day Two.
A little over half an hour after his High Jump heroics Thomas van der Plaetsen ran 49.46 (840pts) for fifth in heat two. It was a brave effort from the Belgian running from the inside lane and ensured he retains fourth spot overnight on a points total of 4280.
He is six points clear in the overall standings of Mikhail Dudas who shifted up a handy two places to fifth. The 21-year-old Serbian record holder has quietly enjoyed a good day and after banking 922 points with 47.73 in heat one – the third quickest time in the event – he will go into his weaker day two full of confidence.
Cuba’s Leonel Suarez continued his advance up the leaderboard moving to seventh overall on 4202 points following a 49.17 clocking. With his stronger second day to come, expect the Olympic bronze medallist to figure in the medal picture. Note, also Algeria’s Larbi Bouraada’s impressive time of 47.34 – the second fastest of the competition. He now sits eighth overall on 4185pts.
Steve Landells for the IAAF