Trey Hardee dug deep like a true champion to set a new personal best and put himself in on the verge of retaining his World title with only the 1500m remaining.
Competition across all nine events has not always been pretty nor of the absolutely highest quality compared to previous IAAF World Championships but cometh the man and the American delivered.
In the opening round Hardee launched the spear out to 68.99m – an improvement of 0.99 on his previous best set at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin – and he burst into a jig of delight and clapped with approval when confirmation came up of his effort.
He could not improve on this mark, although throws of 66.40m and 64.03m in rounds two and three, respectively, earned him a commendable series.
Suarez knew he must fire a big one out into the mid-70m range, a distance he has proved he is capable of achieving in the past to rein in the World champion. Yet it did not quite happen for the Cuban. A first throw of 69.12m (876pts) – the longest of the competition - accrued only two more points than Hardee’s best. In round two he registered 67.01m followed by a final throw of 69.08m.
Eaton, who looks slightly hesitant during his short run up also relinquished second spot to Suarez but it could have been worse. A dire first effort of 46.94m set alarm bells ringing but he found it within himself to improve to 55.07m in round two before adding a further 0.10 with his last effort – a little over a metre short of his lifetime best of 56.19m - for 665pts.
The overall picture now sees Hardee take a sizeable 244point lead over Suarez into the final event – as 7962 plays 7718. In real terms the Cuban needs to run some 38 seconds quicker than the American in the 1500m to strike gold.
More realistically the race for silver and bronze could provide the greater story. Eaton trails Suarez by just 34 points and if he runs in the region of 4.75 quicker over the metric mile distance Eaton could earn a place on the second tier of the podium.
Russia’s Aleksey Drozdov maintained fourth overall after producing a respectable javelin best of 64.80m. The 2010 World Indoor Heptathlon bronze medallist has a nine-event aggregate total of 7644pts.
Jan Felix Knobel advanced three places up the overall standings to fifth thanks to a best effort of 68.42m. With one event remaining the German has accumulated 7539pts.
Rounding out the top half dozen is Eelco Sintnicolaas of the Netherlands. He landed the spear out to a season’s best 61.07m and has a total of 7523pts.
Steve Landells for the IAAF