Fighting through rainy conditions but with his home-state fans cheering him on, Ashton Eaton set a new decathlon world record Saturday while winning the U.S. Olympic Trials championship in Eugene, Ore. Eaton ran a personal best 4:14.48 in the final event, the 1500-meter run, to finish with 9,039 points. Previous record-holder Roman Sebrle tallied 9,026 points in 2001.
Eaton both started and closed fast. He set all-time decathlon records in the first two events on Friday, running the 100 meters in 10.21 seconds and leaping 8.23 meters (27 feet) in the long jump. He closed day one by running 46.70 in the 400 meters through a driving rain, more than one second slower than his personal best, but still compiled 4,728 points through the first five events. On Saturday he also set a personal best in the pole vault (5.30/17-4½) prior to the 1500.
When asked about his achievement, Eaton responded that the decathlon community is "my whole world, and to do the best I possibly could in my world, that means a lot for me."
Trey Hardee finished second and will join Eaton at the London Olympics. No other U.S. decathlete owns an Olympic qualifying score. Defending Olympic champion Bryan Clay, who's battled injuries for several years, was on track to top the Olympic A standard of 8,200 points after day one. But Clay struck a hurdle in the 110-meter race and fouled on all three of his discus attempts Saturday, eventually finishing 12th.
Other American men who've earned Olympic berths since competition opened Thursday are Galen Rupp, Matt Tegenkamp and Dathan Ritzenhein in the 10,000 meters, plus Kibwe Johnson and A.G. Kruger in the hammer throw. Women who've gained Olympic team spots include hammer throwers Amber Campbell, Amanda Bingson and Jessica Cosby; 10,000-meter runners Amy Hastings, Lisa Uhl and Janet Bawcom; plus 100-meter hurdlers Dawn Harper, Kellie Wells and Lolo Jones. Carmelita Jeter won the women's 100 meters in 10.92 seconds, followed by Tianna Madison. At the moment the third member of the U.S. 100-meter team is unknown because Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh finished in a dead heat at 11.07 seconds. Photo finish results were inconclusive, and officials are debating the tie-breaking formula.
For a look at a non-American Olympic gold medal hopeful, check out a new profile of British disance ace Mo Farah.