Ashton Eaton said it was the other decathletes who helped push him toward his world-record performance at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials on June 23, 2012 in Eugene, Ore.
It came down to the 1,500-meter, which is the final event of the 10-event decathlon. In order to break the world record, Eaton had to run the event at least two seconds faster than his personal best, he said. With just one event remaining, Eaton was firmly in the lead in the decathlon and looked to be a lock for the 2012 Olympic team.
That's when he began to hear from the other competitors in the event, he said.
"I think I had help because the decathletes all distracted me," Eaton said in a press conference after completing the decathlon. "(I got) a lot of support -- a lot of high fives and a lot of 'Oh, man, you can do it, you can do it. You got this!'"
Eaton, 24, competed in college at the University of Oregon, which is located in Eugene, Ore. Before the 1,500-meter began, Eaton knew that he might not ever have the opportunity to break a world record again, let alone do it in front of a home-town crowd.
For once, he felt more at ease before the event began, he said.
"Of course I was nervous, but I wasn't shaking. I just kind of felt in-the-moment for once," Eaton said during the press conference. "I knew that there may not be another opportunity so (I was) going to make this one count."
Heading into the final lap, Eaton was a little bit behind the pace he needed to run in order to break the world record, set in 2001. With his final trip around the track, though, Eaton ran a blistering 62 seconds to bring himself home in a time of 4:14.48 -- four seconds faster than his personal best.
With that time, Eaton did more than just smash Dan O'Brien's American record, set in 1992. Eaton also topped the world record set by Czech decathlete Roman Serberle by 13 points. Eaton's final score was 9,039 points.
With a performance like that, the 2011 World Championship silver medalist has positioned himself as the man to beat at the 2012 Olympic Games. Eaton and his American teammates Trey Hardee and Gray Horn are expected to contested the first five events of the two-day Olympic decathlon competition on Aug. 8, 2012. The final five events are scheduled to be held on Aug. 9, 2012.
Sandra Johnson is a longtime Olympic fan. While working for the United States Olympic Committee and living in the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Johnson had the opportunity to immerse herself in the Olympic Movement. Follow her on Twitter: @SandraJohnson46