Ashton Eaton leads decathlon
LONDON -- After Ashton Eaton's big first day in the Olympic decathlon, he was far more interested in sleep.
And with good reason.
His day began Wednesday by breaking Bill Toomey's 44-year-old Olympic record in the decathlon 100-meter dash, finishing in 10.35 seconds. He ended it with a solid performance in the 400, bursting across the line in 46.90. In between, Eaton was first in the long jump, 11th in the shot put and second in the high jump.
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But he didn't stay around long to chat about medals or world-record possibilities. He was off in a hurry.
"Gotta go," he said after the evening session. "Early morning."
The American put himself in position not only to break the Olympic record, but to give himself an outside chance at topping his own world mark. After five events, Eaton has a 220-point advantage over fellow American Trey Hardee.
"You guys keep track of the pace," Eaton said, rolling his eyes. "I'll keep trying to do my best."
In the decathlon, where fatigue is considered another opponent, no lead is safe. The 110-meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500 meters await Thursday.
The 24-year-old Eaton broke the decathlon world record at U.S. trials in June when he finished with 9,039 points. His mark edged Roman Sebrle's 11-year-old record by 13 points.
Eaton, of Eugene, Ore., is 67 points off his first-day total at the trials, but he's far more concerned about getting an Olympic medal than a world record.
"I feel good. My body feels good," Eaton said earlier in the day. "Nothing special, but they were all solid, which is what it takes to be good in the decathlon."
It helps, too, that the last two gold medalists are out.
Defending champion Bryan Clay failed to make the U.S. team, and Sebrle of the Czech Republic dropped out after the 100 because of a right heel injury. It was hardly the ending the 37-year-old Sebrle envisioned for his last Olympics.
"My imagination of saying goodbye to the Olympics was another way," Sebrle said.
Still, he said he was satisfied with a storied career in which he held the world record for more than a decade. Sebrle amassed an Olympic-record 8,893 points on his way to gold eight years ago in Athens.
Like his world record, Sebrle's Olympic mark might not stand much longer given the way Eaton is performing.
"He's amazing," Sebrle said. "It's unbelievable. I think he will make more points than 9,039. But not today. Not at the Olympics."
Eaton's toughest competition may be from Hardee, who's coming off reconstructive elbow surgery last September to repair a ligament he blew out while throwing the javelin at the world championships last summer. The injury happened on his final throw, a personal best that locked up his second straight world decathlon title.
Hardee has recovered enough to put the Americans in a position for their first 1-2 finish in the decathlon since Milton Gray Campbell and Rafer Johnson in 1956.
"It doesn't mean anything now, just like it doesn't mean anything after the first event," said Hardee, who lives in Austin, Texas. "It's all about leading into that 10th event and what it looks like when you cross the line. We're not trying to get ahead of ourselves."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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