LONDON – Ashton Eaton's quest for another world record in the decathlon began Wednesday with the smashing of an Olympic record that stood for 44 years.
The favorite for gold – and the title of world's best athlete – ran a searing 100-meter dash in 10.35 seconds to start the 10-event program. That smashed the previous best by a decathlete, clipping the 10.41 run by Bill Toomey of the U.S. in the 1968 Mexico City Games. Eaton followed his blazing run with the best long jump of the day at 8.03 meters and placed 11th in the shot put (14.66 meters) to take the early points lead with a morning total of 2,848. His teammate, Trey Hardee, finished the morning session in second place with 2,743 points, finishing second in the 100 meters, sixth in the long jump, and fifth in the shot put.
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"It was a fantastic morning," Eaton said. "I'm in first. What more can I say? The marks were decent, I guess. I'm not looking for anything super special in any one event, just a solid all-around."
It was a rousing start for the Americans, who have high hopes of placing Eaton and Hardee 1-2 on the medal stand. With Eaton expected to run away with the gold, the more compelling climb will likely involve Hardee, who had his own fast start in the 100 meters with a time of 10.42.
"That's the fastest I've run in a major championship ever," Hardee of his 100 meters. "I've only run faster a couple times, and that was at home and [in] Gotzis, Austria."
Eaton became the new world record holder in the decathlon in the Olympic trials in June, scoring 9,039 points and breaking the 11-year-old total of 9,026 set by the Czech Republic's Roman Sebrle.
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The 37-year-old Sebrle – an icon in the decathlon – qualified for these Games but withdrew after running the slowest 100 meters of the day with a heel injury. Sebrle said his heel has been hurting for several weeks and wouldn't allow him to compete in the long jump, prompting him to announce his retirement from the Olympic Games.
"The 100 meters was OK for pain, not time," Sebrle said. "I tried to compete as long as possible, but in the long jump I could not run. … [The London Games] is now the last one. I have enjoyed it. But my image saying goodbye to the Olympic Games was not this one.
"It is time for another man. [Eaton] is amazing."
The decathlon continues Wednesday night with the men's high jump and 400 meters.
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