If Maurice Smith had hinted at his medal potential in the first two events, he confirmed it in resounding fashion by taking the overall lead after a monster shot put.
The giant Jamaican came within 9cm of his lifetime best with a second round effort of 17.32m for 933 points to eclipse Bryan Clay and move into gold medal position in the overall standings.
Smith comfortably produced the longest throw in the competition and with a three-event total of 2815 he holds a 33-point advantage over Clay, the defending champion.
At the end of a busy session Clay produced a solid shot of 15.51m, but with a superior high jump to Smith the American will be looking to reverse the positions in the fourth event, due to start at 18:30 local time.
The 2003 World champion, Tom Pappas, fell just 22cm short of his lifetime best with a first round effort of 16.31m (870pts), enough to propel him from sixth to the bronze medal position. The US athlete has been cursed by injury since striking gold in Paris but he is gradually returning to his best.
World record-holder Roman Sebrle’s below-par decathlon continued, however. He registered a best of 15.92m but remains 12 points behind Pappas with an overall three-event total of 2648.
Dmitriy Karpov, of Kazahkstan, bounced back from a disappointing long jump to throw 16.08m for 882 points, climbing two places in the standings to fifth overall.
Germany’s Norman Muller recorded a new lifetime best of 15.18m but dropped from bronze to seventh with 2604 points.
Standings after 3 events:
Osaka 2007 News Team/sl