Ashton Eaton is the greatest all-around athlete on the planet – and that probably sells him short.
He proved it first in London four years ago, affirmed it at the 2013 Moscow and 2015 Beijing World Championships, and left absolutely no doubt Thursday night in Rio, tying the Olympic record for good measure.
Eaton joins track and field legends Bob Mathias (USA) and Daley Thompson (GBR) as just the third man ever to repeat as Olympic Champion in the decathlon.
The gold medal defense was convincing in the end.
Eaton needed to finish no worse than seven seconds behind Kevin Mayer in the 1500m to win the competition, and ended up finishing over two seconds ahead of the Frenchman.
Eaton’s final combined score of 8,893 points ties the Olympic record set in Athens 2004 by Roman Sebrle (CZE).
For Mayer, it was silver, the first decathlon medal for France since 1948.
Canada’s Damian Warner rounded out the podium with a seasons-best performance of 8,666 points.
Early Wednesday morning, Eaton finished second behind Warner in the 100-meter dash, the first event of the decathlon.
It was the only time a name other than Ashton Eaton topped the overall standings after an event.
Eaton placed first in the long jump, first in the 400m, second in the 110m hurdles, and third in the pole vault to win the competition handily.
With two events remaining, the javelin throw and the 1500m, it looked as if Eaton would have a chance to break his own decathlon world record of 9,045 points.
A less-than-stellar performance in the javelin put that mark out of reach, but his 1500m time of 4:23.33 was enough to equal Sebrle’s 12-year-old Olympic record.
The full results for the Rio 2016 decathlon competition can be found here.
With a 1500m time of 4:23.33 Ashton Eaton has tied Roman Sebrle's Olympic record in the decathlon with 8,893 total points.
He also has successfully defended his gold medal from London 2012, becoming just the third man ever to repeat as Olympic decathlon champion.
Kevin Mayer of France wins the silver medal ahead of Damian Warner of Canada, who takes bronze.
A less-than-stellar performance in the javelin portion of the decathlon has likely dashed Ashton Eaton’s hopes of breaking his own world record points total.
He would need to run a near-unthinkable 4 minutes 1 second in the 1500m to set a new world record.
The Olympic record, however, is still very much in play. Eaton would need to complete the 1500m in 4 minutes 23 seconds or better to beat the mark of 8,893 points, set in Athens 2004 by Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic.
Regardless, with just the one event to run, Eaton looks all but certain to join fellow American Bob Mathias (1958/52) and Great Britain's Daley Thompson (1980/84) as the third man to repeat as Olympic decathlon champion.
Eaton’s farthest javelin throw of 59.77m was 18th-best of the night, and a full 6.87m shorter than his outdoor personal best.
Frenchman Keven Mayer put slight pressure on Eaton with a throw of 65.04m worth 814 points.
The gap between Eaton and Mayer is just 44 points, the lowest Eaton’s lead has been since the third event of the competition. 44 points translates to roughly a seven-second difference in the 1500m.
Eaton has the better personal best and season best in the 1500m, so for he to lose the race at all, let alone by seven seconds, would be a massive shock.
Mayer holds the silver medal position by 172 points over Damian Warner of Canada, who leads Germany’s Kai Kazmirek, also by 44 points.
Therefore, the race for bronze will mirror the race for gold, with seven seconds representing the key figure.
Zach Ziemek currently sits in the fifth overall spot, but has a very large gap to overcome to contend for a medal.
The field of athletes will be split into two heats for the 1500m, taking place at 8:45pm and 8:56pm ET. Eaton, Mayer, and the rest of the leaders will race in the later of the two heats.
Once more, for clarity:
Eaton’s time needed for world record: 4:01.62
Eaton’s time needed for Olympic record: 4:23.25
Eaton’s time needed for gold medal: no worse than seven seconds behind Kevin Mayer
Overall top 10 as of javelin throw
** Suarez’s javelin throw of 72.32m blew the field away. Kurt Felix had the second farthest throw, a full 2.4 meters shorter than Suarez.
Ashton Eaton has definitively separated himself from the field of athletes in the men’s decathlon. Now eight events in – most recently the pole vault – Eaton’s margin is a massive 124 points.
Essentially, all he needs to do is complete both remaining events and he will become the first man since Daley Thompson in 1984 to repeat as Olympic decathlon champion.
Don’t expect him to jog through those last two events, though. Ashton Eaton will be competing stride-for-stride with the only man in the world who can match his pace: Ashton Eaton.
At the track and field World Championships one year ago, he set the world record aggregate points total in the decathlon with 9,045 points.
He is now on pace to exceed that total.
With a pole vault of 5.20m worth 972 points, he brought his overall score to 7,370.
If he averages better than 837.5 points over both the javelin throw and the 1500m run, he will break his own world record.
5.20m came in dramatic fashion. Twice, at both 4.90m and 5.10m, Eaton needed a third and final attempt to clear the bar and move on to the next height. He chose not to attempt a vault at 5.30m, instead skipping straight to 5.40m. He then failed to clear the bar on three attempts, making the 5.20m vault and corresponding 972 points his official score for the event.
A javelin throw of 66 meters and a 1500m time of 4:15 – both near but not better than Eaton’s personal bests – would be good enough to break the record.
As for some of the other athletes, Damian Warner could only manage a vault of 4.70m, good for just 819 points. He falls from second to third overall, with France’s Kevin Mayer now in the silver medal position thanks to a massive 5.40m vault worth 1035 points.
Americans Zach Ziemek and Jeremy Taiwo are fifth and sixth overall, respectively. Ziemek matched Eaton’s vault of 5.20m while Taiwo wasn’t far off at 5.00m.
The javelin throw will take place at 5:35pm ET, and decathlon will conclude at 8:45pm at Olympic Stadium with the 1500m.
Top 10 as of pole vault:
Seven events are now in the books, and Ashton Eaton’s lead is significant.
Eaton posted the eighth-farthest discus throw of the competition, the same event in which he placed 22nd four years ago en route to his first Olympic decathlon gold medal.
Damian Warner of Canada, Eaton’s biggest challenger, did not have a good performance in the event. His recorded throw of 44.93m was over five meters shorter than his personal best, which he threw back in March of this year.
Eaton’s throw of 45.49m earned him 777 points, his second-lowest score of the competition so far. Still, the result was good enough to increase his lead over Warner and the rest of the field to 115 points.
Fellow American Zach Ziemek had the third-farthest throw of the day, vaulting him into the sixth position overall.
Lindon Victor of Grenada destroyed the field in the event with a staggering throw of 53.24m, 3.34m better than the next farthest throw. He jumps to 14th overall.
Ukraine’s Oleskiy Kasyanov, who entered the discus event in seventh place, fouled on all three throws. He was given a score of 0 for the event and drops to 26th.
Three events remain in the decathlon: the pole vault, javelin throw, and 1500m run.
The pole vault will begin shortly at 12:25pm ET. The javelin throw will follow later on at 5:35pm, and the 1500m will conclude the competition under the lights at 8:45pm.
Overall top 10 as of discus throw:
Damian Warner reclaimed the silver medal position and closed the gap between he and defending champion Ashton Eaton with a field-best time of 13.58s in the 110m hurdles.
Eaton, running alongside Warner in Heat 4, finished just behind the Canadian with a time of 13.80s.
Warner and Eaton earned 1,029 and 1,000 points for their respective performances. Eaton entered the event with a 132-point cushion over Warner, and therefore still maintains a very healthy lead in the overall competition standings.
Germany’s Kai Kazmirek, who ended the first day in second place, finished last in Heat 4 and falls to fourth overall.
American Jeremy Taiwo also dropped a spot, finishing third in Heat 3.
The athletes will start the seventh event of the decathlon, the discus throw, momentarily. Warner will hope to further close the gap on Ashton Eaton in what is decisively Eaton's weakest event. He finished 22nd among the field in London.
Overall top 10 as of 110m hurdles:
Ashton Eaton is in prime position to become the first man to successfully defend an Olympic decathlon gold medal since Daley Thompson in 1980.
The reigning "Most Athletic Man in the World" responded from a lackluster performance in the high jump with a superb run in the 400-meter dash, expanding his overall decathlon lead to 121 points at the halfway mark of the competition.
Eaton's time of 46.07s was the best of the night by over a half-second, topping his 400m time of four years ago – also best of the competition – by nearly a full second.
Germany's Kai Kazmirek posted the second-best time of the field, shooting him into second position overall with an even 4,500 points.
Canada's Damian Warner placed third, but drops a spot in the overall standings to third place.
Jeremy Taiwo of Team USA drops as well, finishing over 2.5-seconds behind Eaton. Taiwo had climbed as high as the third overall spot after winning the high jump event.
Overall top 10 after day 1:
A massive jump from Jeremy Taiwo catapulted the Seattle native from ninth place to within a point of second place overall in the men's decathlon.
On his third and final attempt, Taiwo lept 2.19 meters, greater than the height of NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal. Taiwo's jump was the highest out of all the decathlon competitors by three centimeters.
At 2.01m, Ashton Eaton finished the high jump tied for 14th, a relatively poor performance considering that Eaton tied for second in the event four years ago in London. The defending Olympic champion still holds the top spot in the overall standings, but his lead over Canada's Damian Warner shrinks from 95 to 68 points.
Overall top 10 as of high jump:
The 100-meter dash, long jump, and shot put events of the men’s decathlon took place earlier this morning. The high jump event is currently underway and 400-meter dash will follow at 8:20pm ET this evening to round out the first half of competition.
London 2012 gold medalist Ashton Eaton of Team USA sits atop the standings with 2,803 points, 95 points ahead of Canada’s Damian Warner. Kevin Mayer of France sits just seven points behind Warner with 2,699, and Brazil’s Luiz Alberto de Araujo rounds out the top four with 2,648 points after three events.
Four years ago, Eaton dominated the field on the first day of competition, winning three of five events – the 100m, long jump, and 400m.
He got off to another strong start in Rio this morning, winning the long jump by a massive 25 centimeters and placing second in the 100m, .16 seconds behind Warner.
Eaton placed 10th in the shot put, one of his weaker events. Mayer had the farthest throw of the day at 15.79m.
Other Team USA members Jeremy Taiwo and Zachery Zeimek sit ninth and tenth respectively in the overall standings. Zeimek finished third behind Eaton in the 100m, and Taiwo’s sixth-place, 14.92m shot put throw was tops among the Americans.
The decathlon continues at 8:20pm ET with the 400-meter dash.
Overall top 10 as of shot put: