Ashton Eaton

Ashton Eaton breaks decathlon world record, wins World Championship

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Ashton Eaton doubted himself in a restroom before the final event of the decathlon, the grueling 1500m. The gold medal was already assured, but a shot at the world record gnawed.

Eaton needed to clock 4:18.25 inside Beijing’s Bird’s Nest on Saturday night to break his world record set in 2012, when he ran 4:14.48 at the Olympic trials at home in Eugene, Ore.

Inside the restroom, Eaton knew what was required.

“Man, I haven’t done a [decathlon] in a while [more than two years], and I’m obviously, like, pretty tired,” Eaton thought to himself in the restroom, recounting it to media in Beijing. “It’s just little things in my mind. I don’t think I can run that fast. This, that and the other thing.”

Eaton needed to average about 69-second laps in the 1500m. The crowd, full and waiting for Usain Bolt to race an hour later, did the wave, Eaton’s coach said.

Going into the final lap, Eaton had to close in about 64 seconds to reach 4:18.25. He reached the final straightaway and pumped his arms harder, began shaking his head from side to side and gritted his teeth. He lunged.

“Some other people were asking, ‘Where did you find the strength over the last lap?'” Eaton told media in Beijing. “I don’t know, but the important thing is to search for it because it may be there anyway. So I think that’s what I did.”

The time: 4:17.52.

Eaton broke his world record by six points, totaled 9,045 points and collapsed to the track, not unusual for decathletes after two days and 10 events of competition. He scored five fewer points than his pre-meet projection.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will have World Track and Field Championships coverage Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

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“Interesting feeling,” Eaton later told the IAAF. “I’ve had it [the world record] once, and now I’ve had it again, and it’s still weird.”

When Eaton posed next to a scoreboard reading WORLD RECORD 9045 for photos, he did not smile. He rested his right arm and head on the board, kneeling with an American flag covering his back in apparent emotional and/or physical exhaustion.

Eaton had taken 2014 off from the decathlon, since there were no World Championships or Olympics that year, and withdrew before his previous decathlon this year with a lower back injury May 30.

“I didn’t realize it until I got here, how much [running the 400m hurdles in 2014] benefited me because, once I was warming up with the [decathlon] guys, I was like I freaking miss this,” Eaton, whose last decathlon was the 2013 World Championships more than two years ago, told media in Beijing.

AP
AP

Eaton, 27, joined Great Britain’s Daley Thompson and American Dan O’Brien as the only men to win at least three Olympic or World decathlon titles. On the BBC and analyzing Eaton’s new record, Thompson predicted the American could score 9,200 points in the future.

In 2016, Eaton can join Thompson and Bob Mathias as the only men to win multiple Olympic decathlons and tie O’Brien for the most combined Olympic and World titles at four.

Eaton said he benefited from watching his wife, Canadian Brianne Theisen-Eaton, take silver in the heptathlon behind Jessica Ennis-Hill on Sunday.

“She struggled, and that was hard for me to watch, and because she struggled, I said, I’m not going to do that. I’m going to have fun,” Eaton told the IAAF. “It was unfortunate that she had to struggle, and I had to benefit from that. But her day will come.”

On Friday, Eaton moved within 25 points of his world-record pace in the final event of the day and fifth overall, when he ran 45.00 in the 400m. That marked the fastest 400m time in a decathlon, breaking the previous mark by a hefty .68 of a second.

Also Friday, top challenger and countryman Trey Hardee, the 2009 and 2011 World champion and 2012 Olympic silver medalist, withdrew due to a back injury.

Canadian Damian Warner took silver to Eaton with 8,695 points.

On Saturday, Eaton chipped away at his world-record pace deficit in the 110m hurdles and javelin, but lost that momentum in the pole vault before a 63.63-meter javelin throw in the ninth event put him 27 points ahead of world-record pace. Eaton had thrown 58.87 meters as part of his world record at the 2012 trials.

That set up the 1500m chase.

“Really, I was just thinking about sitting on the couch when I was little, watching somebody like Michael Johnson, Carl Lewis, jump and run,” Eaton told media in Beijing. “That’s like, the reason I’m here today. So I thought, maybe there’s a kid on a couch somewhere, and if I break this world record, they may be inspired to do something or get excited. So, yeah, I did it for them.”

Eaton entered the 1500m with 8,216 points. In the 2012 trials, he entered the 1500m with 8,189 points.

Could he possibly break the world record again in 2016, or beyond? His coach, Harry Marra, isn’t ruling it out.

“You shouldn’t put a limit, [1968 Olympic decathlon champion] Bill Toomey told me that years ago.” Marra told media in Beijing, saying he thinks Eaton could improve on his Beijing scores in the pole vault, 100m, long jump and shot put.

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All-time Decathlons
1. Ashton Eaton — 9,045 (2015 World Championship)
2. Ashton Eaton — 9,039 (2012 Olympic Trials)
3. Roman Sebrle (CZE) — 9,026 (2001)
4. Tomas Dvorak (CZE) — 8,994 (1999)
5. Tomas Dvorak (CZE) — 8,902 (2001)

Chloe Dygert crashes over guard rail, fails to finish world championships time trial

Chloe Dygert
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American Chloé Dygert crashed over a guard rail and failed to finish the world road cycling championships time trial, where she appeared en route to a repeat title in Imola, Italy.

Dygert, who last year won by the largest margin in history as the youngest-ever champion, lost control of her bike while approaching a curve to the right. Her front wheel bobbled, and she collided with the barricade, flipping over into an area with grass.

Dygert, her legs appearing bloodied, was tended to by several people, put on a stretcher and taken toward an ambulance.

“All we know is that she is conscious and talking,” according to USA Cycling, about 25 minutes after the crash. “More updates to come.”

About 10 minutes after the crash, Dutchwoman Anna van der Breggen won her first time trial title.

Van der Breggen took silver the last three years behind Dygert and countrywoman Annemiek van Vleuten, who missed this year’s race after breaking her wrist last week in the Giro Rosa.

Dygert, 23, had a 26-second lead at the 14-kilometer time check of the 31-kilometer race. Full results are here.

Dygert qualified for the Tokyo Olympics when she won last year’s world time trial title. She has been bidding to make the Olympics on the road and the track.

Worlds continue Friday with the men’s time trial airing on Olympic Channel and NBC Sports Gold for Cycling Pass subscribers at 8:15 a.m. ET. A full TV schedule is here.

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Diamond League slate ends in Doha with record holders; TV, stream info

Mondo Duplantis
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The Diamond League season ends on Friday in the place where it was supposed to start — Doha.

Like many sports, track and field’s calendar was put in disarray by the coronavirus pandemic. The Doha meet, originally scheduled for April 17 to open an Olympic season, was postponed five months while other stops were canceled altogether.

Now, Doha caps an unlikely season that still produced stirring performances. NBCSN coverage starts at 12 p.m. ET. NBC Sports Gold also streams live for subscribers.

The headliner is Swedish pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis, a leading contender for Male Athlete of the Year. Duplantis, who twice bettered the world record in February at indoor meets, last week produced the highest outdoor clearance in history, too, breaking a 26-year-old Sergey Bubka record.

Duplantis can mimic Bubka on Friday by attempting to raise his world record another centimeter — to 6.19 meters, or more than 20 feet, 3 inches.

The deepest track event in Doha is the finale, the women’s 3000m, featuring 3000m steeplechase world-record holder Beatrice Chepkoech, 5000m world champion Hellen Obiri and rising 1500m runner Gudaf Tsegay.

Here are the Doha entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

11:18 a.m. ET — Men’s Pole Vault
11:33 — Men’s 200m
12:03 p.m. — Men’s 400m
12:08 — Women’s Long Jump
12:12 — Women’s 100m Hurdles
12:21 — Men’s 1500m
12:34 — Men’s 110m Hurdles
12:43 — Women’s 800m
12:56 — Women’s 100m
1:07 — Men’s 800m
1:18 — Women’s 3000m

Here are three events to watch (statistics via Tilastopaja.org):

Men’s Pole Vault — 11:18 a.m.
Duplantis looks to complete a perfect 2020 against his two primary rivals — reigning world champion and American Sam Kendricks (who went undefeated in 2017) and 2012 Olympic champion and former world-record holder Renaud Lavillenie of France. Kendricks was the last man to beat Duplantis, at those 2019 World Championships, and is the only man to clear a height within nine inches of Duplantis’ best this outdoor season.

Women’s 100m — 12:56 p.m.
Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah looks poised to finish the year as the world’s fastest woman after clocking 10.85 seconds in Rome last week, her fastest time outside of Jamaica in more than three years. That’s one hundredth faster than countrywoman Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce‘s best time of 2020. Thompson-Herah was fifth and fourth at the last two world championships after sweeping the Rio Olympic sprints. Like in Rome, her primary challengers in Doha are Ivorian Marie-Josée Ta Lou and 2018 U.S. champion Aleia Hobbs.

Women’s 3000m — 1:18 p.m.
A meeting of titans in a non-Olympic event. Chepkoech is the fastest steeplechaser in history by eight seconds. Obiri is the fastest Kenyan in history in the 3000m and the 5000m. Tsegay, just 23, chopped 3.26 seconds off her 1500m personal best in 2019, taking bronze at the world championships to become the second-fastest Ethiopian in history in that event. In all, the field includes five medalists from the 2019 Worlds across four different events.

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