LONDON — Ashton Eaton can now call himself a world record holder and an Olympic gold medalist. Eaton won the decathlon at the 2012 London Olympics on Thursday night. Teammate and two time world champ Trey Hardee took the silver.
After two days of pushing his body to the limit, Eaton ended the ten event decathlon with the 1500m run.
“I knew going into that race I was going to get the gold,” said Eaton. “I just thought ‘what’s going on?’. This is my dream but it’s happened so fast, it’s such a great place.”
Eaton finished in 4:33.59, boosting him to 8869 total points and the gold medal.
“I worked really hard for this, I just can’t believe it,” said Eaton. “When I think about all the work I’ve put in. All the guys have put in a lot of work. I wonder why I deserved the gold because all these other guys worked so hard as well. It’s like a family out there, all wanting to succeed.”
Hardee finished the 1500m run in 4:40.94, placing 18th. That brought his total to 8671, winning silver over Leonel Suarez of Cuba who earned bronze with 8523 points.
Hardee was very happy with his placement, especially considering the serious elbow injury he suffered at the world championships last year.
“Less than ten months ago I was waking up from surgery. Ten months ago I didn’t know I would be here. Looking back, I couldn’t have worked any harder,” said Hardee.
Eaton got it all started on Wednesday morning when he won the 100m sprint in 10.35 seconds. Hardee took second in the event running 10.42.
Eaton then topped the leader board of the long jump with his leap of 8.03m.
Eaton threw for 14.66m in the shot put, one of his weaker events, and placed 11 overall, but still maintained the lead.
In last night’s competition Eaton was second in the long jump clearing 2.02. He ended the evening with the 400m run, winning in 46.90, the fastest time of the day.
“I am in a good position. It has been a long day. My goal is just to win,” Eaton said at the end of day 1.
Eaton went into day 2 of competition with a 220 point lead over Hardee, who sat in second.
Hardee edged out Eaton for the top spot in the 110m hurdles, finishing in 13.54, the fastest time of the day. Eaton was second running 13.56.
Eaton’s worst event was the discus. He finished dead last in his group with a throw of 42.53m, placing him 22 out of 27 in the event.
Hardee performed strongly in the the discus, placing third with his throw of 48.26m, which pushed him to within 99 points of Eaton’s overall score.
But Eaton added to his lead with the pole vault, clearing 5.20m, good enough for third place in the event. Hardee was ninth clearing 4.8m.
Evening competition started with the javelin, the last of the throwing events. Eaton was able to breath a sign of relief when he threw for 61.96 in his final attempt, a new personal best. The distance placed him ninth overall in the event.
The decathlon finished with the 1500m run, a grueling way to end two long days of competition. Eaton needed to run under 4:30.01 to set a new Olympic record. He just missed it.
Eaton set the world record at the U.S. Olympic Trials in June with 9,039 points.