The first day of the World Indoor Championships was good to husband and wife Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton.
The American Eaton took a 70-point lead in the heptathlon in Sopot, Poland, on Friday, one point shy of his world record pace set at the 2012 World Indoor Championships. The Canadian Theisen-Eaton won silver in the pentathlon.
The first U.S. medal was gold, to shot putter Ryan Whiting who defended his 2012 World Indoor title.
The Olympic decathlon champion Eaton reportedly multi-tasked at ERGO Arena, cheering on Theisen-Eaton in her final pentathlon event, the 800m, while in between high jumps in the fourth of seven events in his heptathlon.
Theisen-Eaton finished 62 points behind winner Nadine Broersen of the Netherlands. American Sharon Day-Monroe finished six points out of bronze.
Eaton had the best 60m and long jump in the heptathlon and was fourth in the shot put and third in the high jump. He’s in line to win his fourth straight major multi-event championship with three events to go Saturday.
Whiting, who also won silver at the 2013 World Outdoor Championships, prevailed with a 22.05-meter throw to beat two-time reigning World Outdoor champion David Storl of Germany.
American Marvin Bracy overcame a slow start in the 60m to advance to Saturday’s semifinals in 6.60 seconds. Bracy, 20 and a former Florida State football recruit, is seen as a medal favorite given he’s the fastest man in the world this year among competitors in Sopot.
“It’s my first World Championships and it’s not something I’m used to,” Bracy said, according to Agence France-Presse. “Normally I just show up a day before a championship and run, but this is different.
“I concentrated on my preparations for the race so much that I actually wasn’t paying attention to when the gun went off, that’s why my start was so bad.
“I don’t feel much pressure, I’m just 20 so I know that even if I don’t do as well as I’m expected to, I’ve got a lot of World Championships left in my career.”
Other medal contenders Great Britain’s Dwain Chambers (6.57) and Jamaican Nesta Carter (6.58) also advanced.
Olympic 100m hurdles champion Sally Pearson of Australia was the fastest qualifier into the 60m hurdles semifinals in 7.79 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year and faster than any other woman in the field has ever run.
Americans Nia Ali and Janay DeLoach Soukup also made the 16-woman semifinals set for Saturday.
In the men’s 800m, World Outdoor Championships silver medalist Nick Symmonds failed to advance out of his heat and then said it was the final indoor race of his career.
“I’m not in that point in my season where I have that speed to get out,” Symmonds, 30, told reporters. “It [indoors] doesn’t suit me very well. As much fun as I’ve had out here, I think, for me, personally, obviously you’ve seen the last three or four seasons when I skip the indoor season, the long buildup works better for me in the summer [outdoors].”
All of the contenders advanced to Sunday’s men’s 3000m final, including Americans Bernard Lagat and Galen Rupp. Lagat, 39, is the two-time defending 3000m champion and the oldest athlete at the meet.
Both Americans also made the women’s 3000m final, Shannon Rowbury and Gabriele Grunewald. Grunewald was controversially disqualified and then reinstated as the U.S. 3000m champion last week. Ethiopian world record holder Genzebe Dibaba is the overwhelming favorite in the 3000m.
American Lopez Lomong, the Sudan-born 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremony flag bearer, failed to advance out of the 1500m heats.
U.S. Olympian Francena McCorory was the fastest qualifier into the women’s 400m final Saturday. Olympic silver medalist Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic failed to make the men’s 400m final, while Olympic bronze medalist Lalonde Gordon of Trindad and Tobago made it in only after another man was disqualified.