Eric Scatamacchia

No record for tender Ashton Eaton at Olympic Trials this time

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — This wasn’t a world record for Ashton Eaton. Just a runaway win and another trip to the Olympics.

Not bad for a decathlete dealing with an injury.

On a tender hamstring and a quadriceps that’s given him problems in recent weeks, the defending Olympic champion scored 8,750 points to beat Jeremy Taiwo by 325 at the U.S. Track and Field Trials on Sunday night. That’s well off Eaton’s world record of 9,045, set at the world championships last summer in Beijing.

But consider this: No one in the decathlete field for the Rio Olympics has a personal-best that matches Eaton’s mark from the trials.

He’s simply in a different stratosphere these days. The only person who can compete against him is, well, a computerized model of himself.

No, really.

“It’s almost like I make a digital version of myself, try to compete against that,” Eaton explained. “I had this little mini sub-goal of trying to score 9,000 every decathlon. It would be cool never to go back to (8,000).”

At the last Olympic trials, also at Hayward Field, Eaton broke the decathlon world record for the first time. Eugene has long been a special place for him. It’s where he and his wife, Canadian heptathlete Brianne Theisen-Eaton, met while attending theUniversity of Oregon and rose to prominence.

Eaton said he was shooting for the record, but his leg made it impossible.

“I had the same mindset,” Eaton said. “I would say the expectations personally and externally were a little bit different.”

The 28-year-old Eaton was in such control that his coach, Harry Marra, actually told him to run the final event, the 1,500, at a slower pace than normal. No sense putting any extra wear and tear on the leg with the Olympic decathlon in six weeks. He still ran event No. 10 in 4 minutes, 25.15 seconds, which was one of the top times.

“This meet defines Ashton Eaton way more than his world-record performances. Those were great performances,” Marra said. “But he had so many obstacles physically. … He did this with a bum leg.”

A leg his coach wasn’t sure was going to hold up during the 400 on Saturday.

It did.

A leg Eaton wasn’t sure was going to be ready for the 110-meter hurdles on Sunday.

It was.

And through this competition, Eaton learned a little bit more about himself — he doesn’t have to be super aggressive all the time. Smooth works almost as well.

“The (overall) reviews were pretty good,” Eaton said. “As a decathlon, if you don’t leave with something frustrated then you should quit, because it was perfect.”

In command, Eaton even had time to take in some other events. He watched Chaunte Lowe win the high jump by holding hold off teenager Vashti Cunningham, the daughter of longtime NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham. He also caught Jeffery Henderson‘s win in the men’s long jump and Allyson Felix‘s blistering performance in the 400.

Now those were impressive.

“It’s nice to have a front-row seat as a decathlete, on the field and get to see all that stuff,” Eaton said. “Those kinds of things are inspirational, and you try to learn from it. Sometimes, I try to pick up little things from the specialists.”

Taiwo had a solid performance to take second, while Zach Ziemek of Wisconsin wound up third. It was an event that was missing Trey Hardee, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist who didn’t finish after suffering a left hamstring injury on the first day.

Eaton’s big plans now will be to squeeze in some rest before he and his wife head to Rio. There, Eaton has a chance to make a little history as he tries to defend his title. That hasn’t been done in the decathlon since British star Daley Thompson in 1980 and ’84.

“That would be cool,” Eaton said. “Awesome company to be in. But there are really good competitors.”

Asked if he might chase after another world record in Rio, Eaton just grinned.

“The Olympic Games are so much different from anything else,” Eaton said. “You don’t even talk about world records, in a way. If it’s there at the very end, sure, I’ll run to get it. Other than that, it’s event to event.”

MORE: Allyson Felix, LaShawn Merritt win 400m at U.S. Olympic Trials 

Justin Gatlin, English Gardner lead Olympic 100m team

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Justin Gatlin and English Gardner qualified for the U.S. Olympic team with wins in the men’s and women’s 100m.

Gatlin took the men’s competition in 9.80 seconds, the fastest time of the year. He will compete at his third Olympics in Rio and look to add to his four Olympic medals.

“I wasn’t too worried about the time,” Gatlin said. “Last year I was all about time and running fast and consistent, but this year I was trying to rise to the occasion, rise to the moment.”

Gatlin made his Olympic debut at the 2004 Games where he won three medals. After missing the 2008 Olympics while serving a four-year doping ban, he returned to the track and competed at the London Games where he won bronze in the 100m. At the 2015 World Championships, he finished second to Usain Bolt in the 100m and 200m.

Trayvon Bromell (9.84) and Marvin Bracy (9.98) will join Gatlin as part of the U.S. Olympic men’s 100m team.

Tyson Gay, the American record holder, finished in fifth. He will not compete individually at the 2016 Games, but should make it onto the 4×100 relay.

English Gardner won the women’s 100m in 10.74 seconds. Gardner has won silver medals in the 4x100m at both the 2013 and 2015 World Championships, but she was seventh in the 2012 Olympic Trials.

“I remember in 2012, I sat in the car, and I cried,” Gardner said. “I cried my eyes out and came to the realization that I never wanted to feel that feeling again, and so when I crossed the line and saw the results, I didn’t really care if I came in first, second or third, I was just excited that I made the team.”

She will make her Olympic debut in Rio alongside Tianna Bartoletta (10.776) and Tori Bowie (10.779) on the U.S. Olympic women’s 100m team.

MORE: Ashton Eaton wins Olympic Trials decathlon, will defend Olympic title in Rio

Marquise Goodwin, Bills wide receiver, fails to make second Olympic team

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Buffalo Bills wide receiver Marquise Goodwin failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics in the men’s long jump.

Goodwin finished seventh in the Olympic Trials final Sunday after straining his hamstring in qualifying Saturday.

Jeffery Henderson won with a jump of 8.59 meters, the longest jump in the world this year. He will be joined by Jarrion Lawson and Marquis Dendy on the U.S. Olympic team.

Will Claye did finish in third at the event, but didn’t have the Olympic qualifying mark of 8.15 needed since May 1, 2015. His best jump was 8.14.

Claye jumped 8.38, 8.42 and 8.42 today, but all his jumps were wind-aided and thus not legal for Olympic standard purposes.

Goodwin was in line to become the second person to compete in the Olympics after playing in an NFL regular-season game, joining Herschel Walker, who was a 1992 U.S. Olympic bobsledder. All the other NFL Olympians, around 40, were Olympians before they played in the NFL, including Goodwin in 2012.

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Four other former and current NFL players have been in contention for the Rio Games. On the track, former return specialist Jeff Demps competed at the 2012 Olympics with the U.S. 4x100m relay. He was hoping to qualify for his second Olympics in the 100m, but failed to do so at Olympic Trails. Former Detriot Lions running back Jahvid Best is looking to qualify in the 100m for Saint Lucia.

In rugby, former 49ers running back Jarryd Hayne has stepped away from football hoping to represent Fiji at the Olympics. Patriots safety Nate Ebner is looking to make the U.S. Olympic rugby team.

Goodwin competed at the 2012 London Games, finishing 10th in the long jump, before making his NFL debut. Following the Olympics, he took nearly three years off from track and field to focus on his NFL career. In 2015, he returned to long jumping to make a push for the 2016 Olympic team.

Goodwin was considered a favorite to win gold in Rio. Going into U.S. Olympic Trials he had the two longest jumps in 2016, with a personal best of 27 feet, 8.67 inches earlier this year in France. That was eclipsed at Trails by multiple jumpers led by Henderson.

MORE: Vashti Cunningham becomes youngest U.S. track and field Olympian in 36 years