Ashton Eaton Breaks World Record in Decathlon to Become Greatest Athlete in the World
They call it Historic Hayward Field for two reasons. Not just for the history of the stadium itself, but the historic moments that continue to happen to this day.
On Saturday at Hayward Field, Ashton Eaton wrote another chapter in the storied history of the stadium as he broke the world record in the decathlon with 9,039 points. The former record was 9,026 points, held by Roman Sebrle.
While it had become clear that Eaton would win the decathlon to earn a spot on the US Olympic team, he still had to pull off a personal best performance in the final event, the 1,500 meters, in order to claim the world record. Eaton would need a 4:16.23 for the record.
Eaton maintained a perfect pace throughout the race to put himself in position for the time needed to break the record, surging down the final 100 meters while the roar of the crowd was deafening. He would win the race in 4:14.98, earning 850 points in the event. Joe Detmer and Curtis Beach finished second and third respectively. In a class act, both Detmer and Beach, who were ahead of Eaton, pulled up to let him win the final event, capping off one of the greatest moments not just at Hayward Field, but in the history of track & field.
“It is a representation of all the work I have put in, but also my friends, family support and staff have put in,” said Eaton. “There is not much I can say.”
The day’s events also saw two finals with the women’s 100 hurdles and the women’s 100 meters. In the 100 hurdles, Nike’s Dawn Harper was the first to cross the line in 12.73 seconds. Harper fought off cramps she had been experiencing before the race in order to earn a ticket to London.
“I was pretty relaxed,” said Harper. “The crazy part was I cramped up two or three times before the race. The race came together for sure. It’s a true blessing, knowing all the work I put into it.”
The race also saw Lolo Jones fighting over the hurdles to lock up the final spot on the Olympic team with a 12.86 second performance. Jones will return to the Olympics for another chance at the medal stand. In 2008, Jones was a gold medal favorite, but tripped over the second-to-last hurdle, finishing seventh in the finals.
“I was filled with doubt and fear,” said Jones. “It’s been a constant uphill battle, and to have the confidence to get through this…I’m just thrilled, thrilled to have another shot.”
The final event of the day turned out to be the most controversial as well. Heavy favorite Carmelita Jeter finished first in 10.92 seconds with Tianna Madison close behind in second at 10.96 seconds. But the real story of the race was what happened with third place. In a photo finish, Jeneba Tarmoh and Allyson Felix were the next to cross the line. After looking at the finish line photos, officials credited Tarmoh with the win, edging out Felix by one thousandth of a second.
However, an hour later, USATF reversed the decision. After reviewing the photo and video, officials ruled that both Tarmoh and Felix finished in 11.07 seconds. There is no procedure in place to break the tie. As of right now, officials are still determining what they will do to break the tie. A popular suggestion is a run-off between the two as the fairest way to settle the debate. Those suggesting the idea say that it will make for great TV and a great story.
Stay tuned for continued coverage of the Olympic Trials, including a ruling on the dead heat finish in the women’s 100 final.