30 Reasons To Watch: #9
After leaving Bryan Clay behind at Trials, can the USA’s big two in the decathlon — Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee — give America the chance to still claim majority rule on the podium?
(Photo by Getty Images)
By Mike Tierney, Special to Universal Sports
They had a dream. U.S. decathletes and friends Bryan Clay, Trey Hardee and Ashton Eaton imagined themselves on the Olympics medals podium, in no particular order.
Entering the U.S. Trials, Clay, the eldest at 32, was the old pro, a gold medalist at the 2008 Games and runner-up in ’04. Hardee, 28, had caught up to Clay, winning at the last two World Championships outdoors. Eaton, 24, was the up-and-comer, having struck gold in this year’s indoor Worlds.
The dream was contingent on them placing 1-2-3 in Eugene — a tall order, given the vagaries of the 10-event challenge that determines the unofficial World’s Greatest Athlete. But Clay washed out by clipping the second-to-last barrier in the hurdles race and fouling out of the discus. Hardee held off for second overall. Eaton? Victory with a stunning finish in the final phase, the 1,500 meters, which buried the decathlon world record that stood for 11 years.
One dream — the U.S. reclaiming the global standard — replaced another at the Trials. With Eaton and Hardee, America might not monopolize the medals stand, but it still can claim majority rule.