(Media Release, Oregon Athletic Department)
Eaton won the Rio Summer Games decathlon on Thursday with an Olympic record-tying score of 8,893 points as he claimed a share of the lone major international record he had yet to own in the sport.
He matched the previous Olympic record set by Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic in 2004. He also became the first American to win back-to-back decathlon titles since Bob Mathias in 1948 and 1952.
Eaton was pushed the entire day by Kevin Mayer of France, who actually led for a brief moment on Thursday, and Damian Warner of Canada.
Entering the day with a 121 point lead in the decathlon, Eaton began his march to history by running 13.80 in the 110 meter hurdles to garner an even 1,000 points. Warner ran faster – 13.58 – as the Canadian trimmed Eaton’s lead to 103 points.
The five-time NCAA champion for Oregon then threw a seasonal-best 149-3 in the discus to earn 777 points, and expand his lead over Warner to 115 points.
Eaton flirted with disaster in pole vault, needing third attempt clearances to get over both 16-0.75 and 16-8.75, before clearing his final bar at 17-0.25 on his second attempt. That mark was good for 972 points, as his overall lead grew to 124 points over Mayer, who tied for first in the pole vault at 17-8.5 to move into second place overall after eight events.
Eaton actually trailed in the overall standings after the first round of the javelin when Mayer unleashed a massive toss of 213-4, but Eaton improved on each of his throws, culminating in a best mark of 196-1. Still, Mayer netted 814 points to Eaton’s 734, which left the American just 44 points in front going into the 1,500 meters.
In the final event, Eaton stayed within a stride of Mayer for the first three laps, before breaking away on the final lap. Eaton was fourth overall in the event in 4:23.33, which earned 789 points and secured a 59-point victory over Mayer.
The Frenchman won the silver with 8,834 points and Warner got the bronze with 8,666 points.
Eaton adds the 2016 Olympic gold medal to the one he won in London in 2012. He won the IAAF World Championship in 2013 and 2015, having scored a world-record 9,045 points at the 2015 meet in Beijing.
In other action Thursday, English Gardner and the U.S. women’s 4x100 meter relay team qualified for Friday’s final, but in a manner never before seen at the Olympic Games.
In the semifinal, the Americans dropped the baton on the second exchange between Allyson Felix and Gardner, but only after Felix was clearly bumped by a Brazilian runner, which broke Felix’s momentum and prevented her from delivering the stick to Gardner.
After an appeal, The U.S. team was granted the opportunity to re-run their race and needing to beat China’s time of 42.70 to advance, the American quartet easily did. With Gardner on the third leg, the United States actually turned in the fastest time among all teams on Thursday at 41.76.
Also Thursday, UO alum Matthew Centrowitz made his second straight Olympic final in the men’s 1,500 meters. In the semifinal, he ran near the front almost the entire distance, and finished third in 3:39.61 to automatically advance to the final.
The track and field portion of 2016 Summer Olympics continues with a school-record 17 current and former Ducks in Rio (11 on Team USA, three for Canada, and one each for Australia, Greece and Guatemala). This is the 20th straight Olympiad that the University of Oregon has been represented, a streak that dates to the 1932 Games in Los Angeles.
In addition to the 17 current and former Ducks competing in Rio, the head coach of the U.S. Men's Track and Field team is UO associate athletic director Vin Lananna.
Goducks.com will provide a daily Olympics version of “What to Watch,” as well as a recap of Ducks in competition through the remainder of the Games.
What to Watch – Friday, August 19
English Gardner looks to lead the U.S. to a medal in the 4x100 meter relay, while Phyllis Francis has the semifinal round in the 4x400 meter relay for Team USA.
The final of the women’s 4x100 relay has the United States going against long-time rivals Jamaica and Great Britain, along with a strong team from Germany. Gardner placed seventh in the Olympic 100 meters earlier this week. Also in the 4x100 meter relay pool for the United States is former Duck Jenna Prandini, who made the semifinals of the 200 meters, and Duck freshman Ariana Washington.
In the mile relay, Francis will be part of a strong contingent for the United States. Only Great Britain (3:25.05) has a faster time in the world this season than the Americans’ 3:25.48. France, which is in heat one along with the United States, has the No. 3 time in the world this year at 3:25.96.