Monday, August 29, 2011
Americans finish 1-2 in decathlon at worlds
By Associated Press
DAEGU, South Korea -- Trey Hardee captured his second straight decathlon title at the world championships and took a back seat to a false start by Usain Bolt.
In fact, a record-setting performance by the Americans in the event Sunday was overshadowed by Bolt. Hardee and Ashton Eaton became the first teammates to finish 1-2 in the decathlon at the worlds, but the night will be forever remembered for the drama surrounding Bolt, who jumped the gun in the finals of the 100 meters and was disqualified.
At major meets, it's all about Bolt. He's the star attraction.
Not that Hardee minds.
A low-key person at heart, the 27-year-old from Austin, Texas, prefers to quietly go about his business on the track and then head home.
These days, that's usually with a medal dangling around his neck. And not just any medal, but typically gold. He doesn't need the spotlight.
"I prefer it that way," said Hardee, who edged Eaton by 102 points. "It's easier to train and be myself and go about my day. I'm not a hermit, but it's been nice. I live a really good life. I hate to see it change."
His performance hasn't gone completely unnoticed. A day after winning another title, Hardee's family members and friends back home were filling up his phone with congratulatory texts and emails.
"I can't name one of my friends who didn't stay up all night on Red Bull binges or set their alarms for 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. to watch me throw the javelin and run 1,500," Hardee said Monday. "That meant a lot. As soon as I'm done, I'm sitting down and writing them all back."
Hardee's best event by far at the 10-event competition was the javelin. It was also his most painful.
He threw the javelin a personal-best 226 feet, 4 inches to all but wrap up the competition. But he also tweaked his elbow.
Good thing the final event, the 1,500, involved his legs and all that remained anyway was a nice leisurely stroll with his second straight title clinched.
That was hardly the case for Eaton, who went into the last event trailing Leonel Suarez of Cuba by 32 points. Eaton flew around the track in a personal-best time of 4 minutes, 18.94 seconds to make up the ground and take over second place.
"It was good to show myself that I could do that," said Eaton, who is from Eugene, Ore. "That I can do what needs to get done to win medals."
Eaton led after the first day of competition, but then slowly unraveled. When he had a less-than-stellar performance in the pole vault with just two events remaining, he thought his medal chances were finished.
That's when Hardee had a little chat with him.
"Trey was trying to build me up," Eaton explained. "I was like, 'Man, there's no way.'
"He's a good example from that aspect ... he had stuff that didn't go well and he's still OK, keeping a positive attitude. I was struggling and wasting energy with all that emotional stuff."
With this performance, Hardee and Eaton have clearly established themselves as the favorites at the 2012 London Games. And don't forget Bryan Clay, the reigning Olympic champion who pulled out of U.S. championships with a calf injury and wasn't competing in Daegu.
Any chance of a sweep in London?
"Not to get ahead of ourselves or put anything out there, but I think it's a matter of health," Hardee said. "If we're healthy at the Olympics, it's a solid bet that we're taking home all three."