Decathlon world record tops wild US trials show

Jim Slater
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Ashton Eaton (C) scored 9,039 points in the 10-event men's decathlon

Ashton Eaton (C) celebrates after breaking the world record in the men's decathlon after competing in the 1,500m at the US Olympic Track and Field Team Trials on June 23

Ashton Eaton set a world record in the decathlon at the US Olympic Track and Field Trials on a wild day that also featured a dead heat for a London Olympic berth in the women's 100 meters.

Eaton scored 9,039 points in the 10-event competition on Saturday, breaking the old world mark of 9,026 points set by Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic in 2001 and shattering Dan O'Brien's former American record of 8,891 from 1992.

"There are few words to say to describe it," Eaton said. "To have that score and what I did, it's like I worked so hard to do that. It's hard to explain.

"I like running and jumping. To me, it's my whole world. To do the best I possibly could in my world makes me very happy."

Eaton made himself the overwhelming favorite for the London Olympics by shaving more than four seconds off his personal best in the 1,500, his fifth event and 10th over two days.

"I knew there might not be another opportunity so I had to make the most of it," Eaton said.

World champion Carmelita Jeter won the 100m in 10.92 to book her trip to London with Tianna Madison in second, but Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh finished in a dead heat for the third and final Olympic berth in 11.07 seconds.

After Tarmoh had been declared third by .001 of a second, meet officials consulted camera replays and changed the result to a dead heat, leaving USA Track and Field unsure how to break the deadlock for the last London spot.

Reigning Olympic champion Dawn Harper and Lolo Jones, who led at the Beijing final before stumbling over the penultimate hurdle, qualified for London in the 100 hurdles, as did Kellie Wells, who has this year's top US time in the race.

"I am just thrilled to have another shot," Jones said.

Sanya Richards-Ross, seeking a 200-400 Olympic double with the world's best times of 2012 in both events, advanced to the women's 400m final.

"I don't think I will be beaten," she said. "I'm the most confident I have ever been at a national championship or Olympic trials."

Justin Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic champion who missed the 2008 Olympics with a doping ban, and Tyson Gay, a former world champion coming back after hip surgery, led round one of the men's 100m ahead of Sunday's semi-finals and final.

"A true warrior will go out there and battle in this situation," Gatlin said after leading all qualifying with a 9.90 run.

But Eaton, the local hero who grew up nearby and attended the host University of Oregon, was the biggest star, delighting the crowd of 21,795 at Hayward Field.

Eaton took the final event, the 1,500 meters, in 4mins 14.48secs -- a personal best by more than four seconds -- for the 850 points needed for the world mark.

"With 600 meters to go, I came to believe the Hayward magic exists," Eaton said. "I knew there was no way I was not getting the world record, largely because of the atmosphere in the stadium. It's not like I'm finished, but it's special to happen here."

It also happened with a first day of events staged mostly in rain showers, which hit several events on Saturday as well, though not the final race.

"I hope there are (notations) to show how crummy the weather was and how miserable the conditions were," said runner-up Trey Hardee, the reigning world champion who also booked a London trip.

Eaton, 24, won this year's world indoor crown in the heptathlon and was second in the decathlon at last year's world championships in South Korea.

Bryan Clay, the 2004 Olympic champion, finished 12th after a stumble in the 110 hurdles and no legal throw in the discus, but appreciated Eaton's feats.

"It was mind-boggling to see (Eaton's) performance," Clay said.

Reigning Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt, who served a 21-month doping ban but won a legal fight for a chance to compete at London, advanced to the final of the 400, as did 2004 Olympic champion and 2008 runner-up Jeremy Wariner.

"There was no need to push it today but I will definitely go out there and try to win it tomorrow," Merritt said.

Adam Nelson, the 2005 world shot put champion and a 2000 and 2004 Olympic runner-up, failed to qualify in his event, finishing 15th in 18.47, .3m off what he needed to advance to Sunday's final.

World indoor champion Ryan Whiting, 2009 world champion Christian Cantwell and 2007 world champion Reese Hoffa were among the 12 shot put finalists.