By his lofty standards, it was a disappointing evening for Ashton Eaton in the heptathlon high jump, the American world record holder unable to clear better than 1.99m. Eaton came into the event with a commanding lead of 144 points over Ukraine’s Oleksiy Kasyanov, so had little to fear from his competitors in terms of the overall title race.
He entered the competition at a conservative 1.93m and sailed over at the first attempt, which he also did at 1.99m. Despite coming close in his attempts at 2.02m, it was not to be for the defending champion, and he had to make do with 794 points to bring him to a day one total of 3564.
“I feel good,” said Eaton. “I’ve been good in some things, average in some things, and below average in others. I’m excited for tomorrow.”
Eaton’s chief rival for gold, Curtis Beach, made a flawless start to the high jump, clearing 1.87m, 1.90m, 1.93m, 1.96m and 1.99m on his first attempts, although he rattled the bar considerably at 1.99m. When the bar moved up to 2.02m, the American went clear on his second attempt, but 2.05m proved a stretch too far despite some decent attempts. Beach bagged 822 points for his 2.02m clearance, which moved him to fourth on the overnight standings on 3337 points.
Grenada’s Kurt Felix was the best performer in the high jump, clearing a season’s best of 2.11m which gave him 906 points and an overnight total of 3501. This puts him in second place, but it is a position he is unlikely to maintain on day two, with Ukraine’s Oleksiy Kasyanov one of many also in contention. Kasyanov cleared 1.99m in the high jump to net him 794 points and a total of 3420 overnight, which puts him in third.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF