Published March 10, 2012
By Gene Cherry
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Minutes after smashing his own heptathlon world record for the third time in two years on Saturday, American Ashton Eaton was aiming for even more glory.
A U.S. sweep of the decathlon medals at the 2012 London Olympics is a possibility, Eaton said after totaling 6,645 points in the seven-event heptathlon at the world indoor championships.
With 2008 Olympic gold medalist Bryan Clay and world champion Trey Hardee likely to join him in London, it could be a bountiful medals haul for the American team.
"If all of us are 100 percent healthy, and even 80 percent in shape, realistically we could sweep," the 24-year-old Eaton told Reuters.
The trick will be to get through the tough U.S. trials in June in Eaton's hometown of Eugene, Oregon where only the top three finishers make it to London.
"The talent level of those three guys is beyond anything out there globally right now," said their manager Paul Doyle.
"There are some great athletes out there, the Cubans are very strong and there are some young European athletes coming up that are strong, but on current form the three decathletes from the U.S. have a very solid chance to sweep the medals."
The trio have the credentials, having won every global event since the 2007 outdoor world championships.
Eaton, the 2011 world silver medalist behind Hardee, produced a dominant performance in the two-day heptathlon in Istanbul.
He won five of the seven events, losing only the high jump and shot put.
Needing to run two minutes 39.63 seconds in the final discipline, the 1,000 meters, he shot off from the gun and crossed the line well clear of the field in 2:32.77 to eclipse his 2011 record of 6,568 points.
Ukraine's Oleksiy Kasyanov took the silver, 574 points adrift, and Russia's Artem Lukyanenko won the bronze.
Clay and Hardee did not participate.
The American then cruised through the pole vault without a failure until 5.20 meters, long after his last remaining rival Lukyanenko had dropped out with a best of 5.00.
Eaton cleared 5.20 on his second attempt, doing a back somersault on the mat in celebration.
The record was never really in doubt as, cheered on by the near-capacity evening crowd, he pulled away from his fellow heptathletes over the five laps of the 1,000 meters.
"You do something the first time, you are like, 'Wow I did it'," said Eaton, perhaps the best runner of the modern-day multi-eventers. "It felt really good.
"Then you do it again and you are like, 'Yes I knew I could do it because I did it before'."
Eaton is now gunning for Czech Roman Sebrle's decathlon world record of 9,026 points.
"At this point, if all the stars are aligned perfectly, I think it could be possible," he said.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)