Champion Hardee staying under the radar

By Peter Rutherford

DAEGU, South Korea (Reuters) - Trey Hardee concedes he might be one of least known athletes in the United States -- and the double decathlon world champion hopes it stays that way.

While Hardee added his name to America's great tradition in the 10-sport event, he hoped his success would not vault him into the public eye and he could continue to fly below the radar.

"I think I prefer it that way," Hardee told reporters in the South Korean city on Monday. "It's much easier to train and to be myself. Go about my day and not have to get noticed or bothered.

"I'm not a hermit by any means. I live a really good life and I'd hate to see anything change."

"Honestly if we're healthy at the U.S. trials we're going to make the team. And if we're healthy at the Olympics I think it's a solid bet we're taking home all three," he added.

"I'm happy we're involved in this process but I really want to do my best to preserve the legacy of American decathlon and be a model and set an example."

The Birmingham, Alabama native paid tribute to some of his forerunners in the event and said U.S. track and field was in great shape.

The U.S. has won 12 Olympic decathlon gold medals since it was reintroduced at the 1912 Games in Stockholm, where King Gustav V of Sweden is said to have described champion Jim Thorpe as the "greatest athlete in the world."

"For me it's cool to be an American and do this event because of all the people that went before us that paved the way and carried that torch.

(Editing by Alastair Himmer)