Barring an injury, Ashton Eaton looks certain to secure his third successive world indoor title after the American cleared a best of 5.10m in the heptathlon pole vault on Saturday afternoon.
Eaton opened his competition at 4.90m, which he sailed over at the second attempt, then skipped 5.00m and took his next attempt at 5.10m. He again needed two tries to go clear, which netted him 941 points and extended his lead in the overall contest. In a bid to get back on track to break his own world record, Eaton then moved the bar up to 5.50m, but he wasn’t close in either of his two attempts.
He will now take a lead of 238 points into tonight’s 1000m event, though would require an absurdly fast time of 2:20.48 to break his own world record, which means the final event is likely to be a five-lap coronation for Portland’s hometown hero.
In terms of the contest for minor medals, though, it’s still all to play for, with Germany’s Mathias Brugger, USA’s Curtis Beach and Ukraine’s Oleksiy Kasyanov all on course for a hard-fought 1000m battle for the runner-up spot.
Kasyanov appears to hold the slight edge after clearing a personal best of 4.90m to net 880 points and take second place on 5305 ahead of the final event. The 30-year-old Ukrainian was a silver medallist at the 2012 edition in Istanbul, and if he can approach his best of 2:39.44, he looks likely to repeat that later tonight.
However, Brugger cannot be discounted in the battle for silver. The 23-year-old cleared a personal best of 5.10m in the pole vault, adding 5cm to his previous best, to put himself in third position on 5185 ahead of tonight’s 1000m.
Eaton’s teammate Beach will certainly be in the medal hunt too, as he is by far the strongest 1000m runner in the field. The American had a perfect series of clearances until the bar reached 5.00m this afternoon, which he sailed over on the third attempt to net 910 points. That puts him in sixth place on 5119 points ahead of tonight’s 1000m. However with a personal best of 1:47.75 for 800m, Beach is expected to claw back most, if not all, of the deficit on his chief rivals for the minor medals.
Sitting in fourth position currently is Adam Helcelet of the Czech Republic, who has 5185 points after clearing 4.90m in the pole vault. Grenada’s Kurt Felix slipped to fifth after the pole vault, having been unable to clear any higher than 4.50m today.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF