EUGENE, Oregon (Reuters) - American Ashton Eaton employed the “magic” of his home stadium to set a decathlon world record at the U.S. Olympic athletics trials on Saturday.
The 24-year-old’s total of 9,039 points improved on Czech Roman Sebrle’s 2001 mark by 13 points, an achievement made more stunning by the rainy and cold conditions over the two days of the decathlon competition.
Eaton’s triumph came on the track where he trains and the support he received in the final 1,500 meters leg of the 10-event competition, had made the record so special, he said.
“That is when the crowd really lifted me,” he said. “That last 600 meters I was not running with my own legs. It was incredible.
“I don’t care what anyone says, there is magic here,” the world silver medalist said of the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field.
The sense of occasion was heightened by the presence of many of the United States’ greatest decathletes, including Dan O’Brien, Bruce Jenner and Rafer Johnson, who were at the trials to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first Olympic decathlon.
Already the world indoor pentathlon record holder, many had tabbed the Oregon native to be the next holder of the decathlon record.
Eaton, himself, said he expected to become the second man to top 9,000 points in multi-event competition.
The weather provided an obstacle but Eaton won seven of the 10 events for a massive 646-point victory over world champion Trey Hardee, wiping out O’Brien’s 1992 national record of 8,891 points in the process.
He had already set the best ever marks in decathlon for the 100 meters and long jump legs on Friday and capped off the competition with a gutsy 1,500 meters.
“I knew the possibilities (of the world record) after the javelin, maybe the pole vault, so I just kind of went with it,” he said.
Eaton said there was more to come.
“The great thing about this is, I feel like I have not maximized yet,” he said. “I am just getting going.
“I feel like I can still run faster, jump higher ... and clearly I can throw farther.”
Editing by Ian Ransom