Ashton Eaton needed to make a statement, and establish himself as the man to beat in the 2012 Olympic decathlon. He did just that, running the opening 100 meters in an Olympic-best 10.35 seconds. He extended his points lead in the long jump, unleashing an 8.03 meter leap on his final attempt of the discipline, the only jump of the competition that surpassed eight meters. After an eleventh place finish in the shot put, though it bettered his mark from the Olympic trials, diminished his lead, he gained the points back in the high jump, tying for second after clearing 2.05 meters. Only Cuba's Leonel Suarez, who began the event 238 points behind Eaton, managed to jump higher. In the final event of the day, Eaton stretched the lead even further. No member of the field managed to run the 400 meters in less then 48 seconds, except for Ashton Eaton. He ran it in less than 47 seconds. His 963 points in the event was 57 more than the next finisher. With five events to go, Eaton sits at 4661 points, with fellow American Trey Hardee trailing him by 220.
Thursday begins tonight at 1 AM Oregon time with the 110 meter hurdles. Eaton has the lowest personal best in the field, but the hurdles can not be taken lightly, as one missed hurdle can severely cost a competitor. Following the hurdles are the discus, the pole vault, the javelin, and the 1500 meters. The key events tomorrow for Eaton will be the hurdles and the pole vault; he should own both those events, winning them and offsetting the points hit he'll take in the throwing events. Event times:
1:00 AM PDT - 110m hurdles
1:55 AM - discus throw
3:55 AM - pole vault
10:30 AM - javelin throw
1:20 PM - 1500 meters
The rest of Wednesday's action:
- Zoe Buckman turned in a personal best in the 1500 meter semifinals, finishing in 4:05.03. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to move her on to the finals.
- Galen Rupp had an easy run through to the final of the men's 5000 meters; he ran in the second of two preliminary heats, and he knew from the pace that it was much faster than heat #1. No longer having to concentrate on finishing in the top 5, he took it easy, finishing in sixth place and qualifying for the final on time. The 5000 meter final will be run Saturday night.
- Javelin thrower Cyrus Hostetler failed to qualify for Saturday's final, with a longest throw of 75.76 meters.