Eaton took gold in the Olympic decathlon – the event bestowed the title of “world’s greatest athlete” – holding off his U.S. teammate Hardee on the final day of competition. The world-record holder in the event, Eaton accumulated 8,869 points for the win. Hardee finished second with 8,671 points. The 1-2 finish is the first time in 56 years that the United States has won gold and silver in the event, matching the feat of Milt Campbell and Rafer Johnson in the 1956 Melbourne Games.
And on a day when Usain Bolt was calling himself the “greatest athlete to ever live,” Eaton’s traditional title was echoed by his top competitor.
“So Ashton doesn’t have to sound selfish or self-centered, Ashton is the best athlete to ever walk the planet – hands down,” Hardee said. “The title bestowed upon the Olympic champion in the decathlon is ‘world’s greatest athlete.’ Ashton is the world-record holder in that event. The same [reason] Usain Bolt can be the fastest man on the planet – because that’s the title that’s bestowed upon those event winners.”
Scored by the cumulative point totals in 10 events, Eaton won three – the 100 meters, long jump and the 400 meters. He also finished second in the high jump and third in the pole vault. That was more than enough to put Eaton in position to coast in his final event, the 1,500, which saw him ease his way around the track en route to a seventh-place finish and more than enough points to claim the United States‘ 13th gold medal in Olympic decathlon.
Only 24 years old and just hitting his prime in the event, the gold was Eaton’s first Olympic medal. And while his dominance in decathlon is just beginning, he’s in no hurry to duke it out with Bolt over who is the world’s best athlete.
“There’s no fight,” Ashton said of his title versus Bolt’s. “Usain is clearly awesome in his own right. He’s an icon of the sport and whatever. Titles are for, I don’t know, books and stuff. I just like what I’m doing.”
“I’m a great athlete, but to do 10 events, especially the 1,500, I’ve got to give it to him,” the 100 and 200-meter gold medalist said.
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