Ashton Eaton ends day one of the decathlon with a 121-point lead after producing the fastest time of the day in the 400m.
On a hot and sticky evening in Rio’s Olympic Stadium, Eaton dashed around a lap of the track to cross the line comfortably ahead of Germany’s Kai Kazmirek. Eaton’s time of 46.07 in the third heat was almost a second faster than his time from the 2012 Olympics and brought his day-one score to 4621.
Kazmirek equalled his PB from five years ago, clocking 46.75 to move from fifth to second overall with 4500. Canada’s Damian Warner clocked a solid 47.35 to remain in medal contention, bringing his half-way score to 4489.
But Kevin Mayer was once again one of few men to set a PB; the Frenchman clocked 48.28 to take 0.38 from his previous best set in 2011. He placed third in the second 400m heat behind Brazil’s Luiz Alberto de Araujo and Cuba’s Leonel Suarez, who duelled the whole way around. Much to the delight of the home crowd, De Araujo crossed the line first, clocking a PB of 48.14 to finish 0.01 ahead of Suarez.
Larbi Bourrada convincingly won the first 400m heat in 47.98, crossing the line about 10 metres in front of Adam Sebastian Helcelet of the Czech Republic and Belgium’s Thomas van der Plaetsen. The latter pair clocked season’s bests of 49.51 and 49.63 respectively.
Looking ahead to the second day, Eaton can be expected to double his current leading margin in his quest for a second Olympic title. If Mayer continues to exceed expectations, as he has today, he will not only smash his decathlon PB, but he also has a realistic shot of taking the silver medal.
Warner is still more than capable of securing the silver, though, and he can be expected to bank valuable points in the first event of tomorrow, the 110m hurdles.
Behind Warner and Mayer, the likes of Kazmirek, Bourrada and Abele won’t be far from the medals if they have a good day tomorrow.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF