Damian Warner of Canada competes in the Men's Decathlon Long Jump on Day 12 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 8, 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright

London 2012 - Event Report - Decathlon - Long Jump

The start of the Decathlon Long Jump meant the end of an era with the former World record holder and 2004 Olympic champion Roman Sebrle quitting the competition after just one event.

The Czech, who held the world record for more than 11 years 2001-2012, had come to London carrying an injury following a sixth place finish at the European Championships in Helsinki in June.

But in this competition, the new World record holder, American Ashton Eaton, continued well. The 24-year-old made sure he had a good result with his first jump landing at respectable 7.87m in the difficult Olympic Stadium Long Jump pit and then bettered that to 8.03m on his final jump. What this means in the big picture, is that Eaton is still the one and only favourite for the gold here. And while there is no chance for a World record in this competition, the American has a good shot to break the eight-year-old Olympic record of 8893p held by Sebrle. The only thing that stands between Eaton and the Olympic gold medal is not getting a result in one of the remaining eight events.

The Long Jump has been affected by swirling winds and made jumping difficult in all previous competitions at these Olympics and despite the fact that there are always some who can cope with tough conditions, many of the decathletes here couldn’t. Some are already way behind their personal or season’s best series and this happened in the long jump in particular.

At the top American Trey Hardee has started well and although he will not be in a position to challenge Eaton for the gold, he has a good chance at a medal after a 7.53m leap, which gives him second place with 1936p, already a huge 143 points behind the leading Eaton (2079p).

There were big changes in the group of athletes going for the two remaining medals with Hardee. Young Frenchman Kevin Mayer will not be reaching for a medal here - his results in the first two events have made sure of that. The European trio of German Pascal Behrenbruch, the 2012 European Champion, Dutch Eelco Sintnicolaas and Belgian Hans Van Alphen all did well in the Long Jump and are on a course for a top three finish. The German jumped 7.15m equalling his season’s best and Sintnicolaas reached 7.37m, which is better than in his PB series. Belgian national record holder at 8506p, Van Alphen was in good form throughout the Long Jump and jumped a personal best 7.64m with his last try and is now back on course to another national record after falling a bit back in the 100m.

There was one addition to the medal fight in the Long Jump with 24-year-old Cuban Leonel Suárez showing he has timed his form to perfection. Having showed very little since his third place finish in Daegu at the 2011 World Champs, the Cuban ran a season’s best 11.27 in the 100m and then set a 7.52m personal best surpassing a 7.42m mark from 2009 and could be on his way to win another Olympic medal to add to his Beijing bronze. Ukrainian Oleksiy Kasyanov jumped a 7.55m season’s best, Canadian Damian Warner a 7.54m personal best and Mihail Dudas of Serbia a 7.53m season’s best, but this trio will only be looking for a top eight finish here.

Mirko Jalava for the IAAF