RIO DE JANEIRO – Ashton Eaton did something on Wednesday that he had not done since his junior year at Oregon in 2009. He trailed after the first event of the decathlon.
Eaton charged back over the course of the final four events of day one to take a 121 point lead heading into Thursday’s final day of the Olympic decathlon. Perhaps just as impressive as he looks to become the first American to repeat in the decathlon in more than half a century is that Eaton is on pace for an Olympic record.
Eaton scored 4,621 points through five events. Kai Kazmirek of Germany was second with 4,500 points, followed by Damian Warner of Canada (4,489), Kevin Mayer of France (4,435) and American Jeremy Taiwo (4,419).
The Olympic record of 8,893 points was set by Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic in 2004. The last American to win back-to-back decathlon titles was Bob Mathias in 1948 and 1952.
The start of the decathlon was anything but typical for the speedy Eaton.
He ran 10.46 to finish second in the 100 meters behind Warner who had a swift 10.30. That left Eaton in the rare position of being 48 points behind after an event that is one of Eaton’s strongest.
Fortunately, the rest of the day went well for Oregon’s five-time NCAA champion.
He reached 26-0.75 on his second attempt in the long jump to score 1,045 points and take the overall lead.
Eaton followed that with a solid effort in the shot put, 48-4, to maintain his slim lead.
He then had a season best clearance in the high jump of 6-7, just missing on his third attempt at 6-8.25.
Eaton then closed out day one in style by winning the 400 meters in 46.07 that was good for 1,005 points, pushing his lead to the widest margin of the competition.
Another competitor made history for Oregon on Wednesday. Sophomore Deajah Stevens finished seventh in the final of the women’s 200 meters in 22.65. She became the Duck woman to make an Olympic sprint final as an undergrad.
Neither Duck alum was able to advance to the final in the men’s javelin.
Cyrus Hostetler had a best throw of 261-8, which was 20th overall. Sam Crouser, competing in the Olympics for the first time, was 34th with a best mark of 242-0.
The track and field portion of the 2016 Summer Olympics continues with a school-record 17 current and former Ducks in Rio (11 on Team USA, three for Canada, and one each for Australia, Greece and Guatemala). This is the 20th straight Olympiad in which the University of Oregon has been represented, a streak that dates to the 1932 Games in Los Angeles.
In addition to the 17 current and former Ducks competing in Rio, the head coach of the U.S. Men’s Track and Field team is UO associate athletic director Vin Lananna.
GoDucks.com will provide a daily Olympics version of “What to Watch,” as well as a recap of Ducks in competition through the remainder of the Games.
What to Watch – Thursday, August 18
Ashton Eaton looks to become the first American to win back-to-back Olympic decathlon titles in more than 60 years as the 10-event competition wraps up on Thursday. Meanwhile, Matthew Centrowitz hopes to make his second straight Olympic 1,500 meter final, and a trio of Ducks could help the U.S. make the final of the 4x100 meter relay.
Eaton’s quest for an historic gold medal in the decathlon continues Thursday. Eaton, a five-time NCAA champion for Oregon, is the world record-holder in the decathlon, having scored 9,045 points at the 2015 IAAF World Championships.
Not only could he become the first repeat American decathlon champion in a half a century, he could also threaten the Olympic record of 8,893 points set by Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic in 2004. The last American to win back-to-back decathlon titles was Bob Mathias in 1948 and 1952.
Eaton was the 2012 Olympic champion in London and has also won the last two IAAF World championships (2013, 2015).
The women’s 4x100 meters heats get underway Thursday with the United States among a half-dozen medal contenders along with Jamaica, Great Britain, China, France and Canada. Three runners with Oregon connections are in the relay pool. Freshman Ariana Washington was the 2016 NCAA champion at both 100 and 200 meters. Alum English Gardner placed seventh in the Olympic 100 meters earlier this week, while Jenna Prandini made the semifinals of the 200 meters.
Former Duck Matthew Centrowitz continues his bid to medal in the 1,500 meters. Centrowitz was fourth in the 1,500 at the 2012 London Olympics and won the IAAF World indoor title at 1,500 meters earlier this year in Portland, Ore.
Among the faster runners in his heat (heat two) are Elijah Manangoi of Kenya, Ryan Gregson of Australia and Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti.
The favorite in the 1,500, Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop, runs in heat one. Kiprop won gold at the 2008 Beijing Games, before a shocking 12th place finish in London. Kiprop has also won the last three IAAF World outdoor 1,500 meter titles.
Schedule – Thursday, August 18
All times Pacific
5:30 a.m. Ashton Eaton (USA) Decathlon 110 Meter Hurdles
6:25 a.m. Ashton Eaton (USA) Decathlon Discus
7:20 a.m. English Gardner/Jenna Prandini/Ariana Washington (USA) Women’s 4x100 Meter Relay - Heats
9:25 a.m. Ashton Eaton (USA) Decathlon Pole Vault
2:35 p.m. Ashton Eaton (USA) Decathlon Javelin
4:45 p.m. Matthew Centrowitz (USA) Men’s 1,500 Meters – Semifinals
5:45 p.m. Ashton Eaton (USA) Decathlon 1,500 Meters