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With A Big Throw
Eaton A Surprising 5th Place Halfway through the Decathlon at World Championships

By Steve Ritchie - Special to the Bend Bulletin
August 19, 2009
Ashton Eaton

BERLIN - Ashton Eaton once again surpassed expectations during a grueling first day of decathlon competition on Wednesday at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Berlin, Germany. Despite having competed only once previously in international competition, Eaton managed to come through the initial five events at the World meet in great shape, scoring a total of 4,355 points, which puts him in fifth place overall going into the second and final day of the decathlon on Thursday. Eaton trails the leader, Oleksiy Kasyanov of the Ukraine by just two hundred points, while U.S. champion Trey Hardee is in 3rd place with 4,511 points.

The competition began bright and early for Eaton and the other 34 decathletes. Eaton said that he did his "morning shakeout" at 6:15 am to get ready for the first event which started at 10 am. The day would be longer than most for him, not ending until more than 12 hours later with the 400 meters.

Eaton and Hardee got off to a fast start in the day's first event. Running in the same heat of the 100, they finished second and first, respectively, with the day's fastest times in that event. Eaton's time of 10.53 was just .04 seconds off his best "legal" (non-wind-aided) mark ever."Coming in, I wanted to start it off right . . . and I definitely got it going in the 100," Eaton said.

Ashton Eaton

He did even better in the day's second event, the long jump. On his first of three jumps, he soared to an all-time personal best of 25 feet, 9¼ inches and led all decathletes here in that event. At that point he was in second place overall, only 14 points behind Hardee.

The shot put, which came next, didn't go nearly as well. Eaton, who said at this point in his career, shot put is an event he just has "to manage," trailed most of the field with his best throw of 40 feet, 2¾ inches. That mark is nearly two feet less than his personal best, and resulted in Eaton falling to seventh place overall. However, it didn't take him long to mount a comeback. In the fourth event, the high jump, Eaton came through twice with clearances on his last attempt and stayed alive for the next height. He ended up clearing 6 feet, 7½ inches, which earned him 822 points and moved him up one spot to sixth.

Even with two high jump pits going, contesting that event took more than three hours because of the number of athletes competing. The final event of the day, the 400 meters, was scheduled for 8:50 p.m. but did not start until nearly 10:00 p.m. because of the length of the high jump. Eaton was expected to do well in the 400, and he delivered a solid performance, running the one-lap race in 47.75, less than a second off his personal best. Another runner in his heat, Yunior Diaz of Cuba, set an all-time championship record for the 400, clocking 46.15.

After the long day, Eaton said, "I'm feeling pretty tired, but I think everybody is in the same boat." He also said he was very happy with his standing after the first day, and would go out tomorrow and just try to be consistent in all five events."The key to any decathlon is consistency, so I just have to not worry about PRs and just get consistent marks in every event." He has only about ten hours until it all starts again.


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