Ashton Eaton in the Decathlon Discus at the 2013 US Championships (© Getty Images)
Decathlon World record-holder Ashton Eaton was under pressure for much of the two days of competition in Des Moines, but he eventually triumphed at the 2013 US Championships – part of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge – to book his spot on the team for this year’s World Championships.
The Olympic champion entered the competition with tendonitis in his leg, so was aiming to do just enough to get through the competition unscathed and secure one of the all-important top-three spots.
He led after the first three events, having clocked 10.48 in the 100m, 7.59m in the Long Jump and 15.00m in the Shot. Two-time World champion Trey Hardee was 114 points behind Eaton at this stage with World junior champion Gunnar Nixon a further seven points adrift. Then came major changes after the High Jump.
Nixon equalled his PB of 2.17m to score 963 points and move into the overall lead. Eaton, competing in the event which presented the biggest problems for his condition, settled for a 1.90m clearance, while Hardee skipped the event. As the defending World champion, however, Hardee’s place on the team was secured, whatever the outcome.
Eaton ended the day with a 46.89 clocking in the 400m, but Nixon’s 48.63 gave him enough points to maintain his overall lead going into the second day, 4449 to 44.05.
On day two, another conservative effort by Eaton in the 110m Hurdles saw Nixon extend his lead as they clocked 14.68 and 14.59 respectively.
But in the Discus, Eaton finally regained the lead after throwing 43.99m to Nixon’s 40.32m. Eaton extended his lead after clearing 4.60m in the Pole Vault as Nixon managed just 4.30m. The pair were closer in the Javelin, Eaton throwing 60.36m to Nixon’s 60.44m.
Nixon finished more than two seconds ahead of Eaton in the 1500m, 4:31.95 to 4:34.15, but it wasn’t enough to catch him as Eaton won with 8291.
Nixon, still just 20 years old, was rewarded with a PB of 8198. It was just two points shy of the World Championships ‘A’ standard, but he will likely be on the team. Aside from Eaton and wildcard entry Hardee, only one other athlete – Jeremy Taiwo, who finished third here with 7925 – has the ‘A’ standard, so Nixon will be able to go to Moscow on the ‘B’ standard.
Day sets world lead in Heptathlon
London Olympian Sharon Day had the competition of her life to win the Heptathlon, adding more than 200 points to her previous best with a world-leading 6550.
She began by equalling her PB in the 100m Hurdles, 13.54, then moved into the lead after the High Jump where she cleared 1.90m, her best height since 2009.
From there, Day remained in the lead through to the end of the competition. She threw 13.77m in the Shot and ended the first day with a PB of 24.02 in the 200m.
A wind-assisted 6.16m in the Long Jump – her best mark under any conditions – was followed by a huge PB of 47.38m in the Javelin. Day rounded out the competition with a season’s best of 2:12.12 in the 800m to bring her tally to 6550.
The score moved her from 12th to fifth on the US all-time list and it’s the best score by US heptathlete since 2010.
The rest of the field finished more than 500 points adrift of Day, but the battle for the minor places was a close one as just 119 points separated the next eight athletes.
Bettie Wade held on for second with 6018, with NCAA indoor champion Erica Bougard finishing third with 5990.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF