Ashton Eaton enjoyed a good Sunday morning on the second day of the decathlon competition, opening a 181-point lead with two events remaining. The American expanded on his day one lead by running the 110-meter hurdles in 13.72 seconds, topping all of his competitors and adding 1,011 points to his total. He followed with a respectable 45-meter discus throw (147 feet, 7 inches) and cleared 5.2/17-¾ in the pole vault to take 7,252 points into the evening session. Germans hold the next two spots. Michael Schrader remained steady and had 7,071 points while Rico Freimuth, bolstered by a big 48.74/159-11 shot put toss, was in third with 7,007. Other medal contenders include Canada's Damian Warner (6,959 points), Carlos Chinn of Brazil (6,944), Russia's Ilya Shkurenev (6,490), Eelco Sintnicolaas of the Netherlands (6,922) and American Gunnar Nixon (6,898).
LaShawn Merritt and Kirani James, the two favorites in the men's 400 meters, began their expected domination by topping all competitors in Sunday morning's heats. Merritt won his heat in 44.92 seconds while James prevailed in 45-flat.
There were no surprises in the women's 100-meter heats, as the U.S. and Jamaica each sent four sprinters to Monday's semifinals. American English Gardner posted the fastest time, 10.94 seconds. Carmelita Jeter, who's been recovering from a thigh injury, was second in her heat in 11.24.
Shot put favorite Valerie Adams of New Zealand led five throwers who topped the 18.70-meter automatic qualifying mark, as she reached 19.89/65-3 with her first attempt, followed by American Michelle Carter at 19.76/64-10. All the top contenders qualified for Monday's final.
David Oliver easily led the field in the men's 110-hurdles heats, with a time of 13.05 seconds. All four Americans made it through to the semifinals, but Cuba's Orlando Ortega, who was sixth in last year's Olympics, was a surprising non-qualifier.
The expected favorites made it though the women's 1500-meter qualifying heats, led by Ethiopia's Genzebe Dibaba, who won her heat in 4:06.78. Mary Cain, the 17-year-old American, was a solid qualifier in 4:08.21.
Five finals are scheduled for Sunday's afternoon session, including women's discus, long jump and 10,000 meters, plus the men's 20-kilometer race walk and 100 meters. The decathlon also concludes Sunday afternoon.