Eaton Edges Closer To Decathlon Gold At Deserted Luzhniki

by
Reuters
Never before in the field of sporting conflict can so much have been given by so many and watched by so few as the men vying for the title of the world's greatest athlete set about their work in a virtually empty Luzhniki stadium on Sunday.

Eaton

Never before in the field of sporting conflict can so much have been given by so many and watched by so few as the men vying for the title of the world's greatest athlete set about their work in a virtually empty Luzhniki stadium on Sunday.

Ashton Eaton might be Olympic decathlon champion and world record holder but the Russian public did not feel compelled to shell out their hard-earned rubles to watch him bid to add the world title to his collection, even with tickets available for the equivalent of three U.S. dollars.

With just a few hundred fans dotted around the vast 81,000-capacity stadium there was a surreal atmosphere, where the athletes' voices could be heard echoing off the swathes of empty plastic seats when the second day's action began.

Eaton's focus was spot on, however, and after beginning the day with a nine-point lead over compatriot Gunnar Nixon he immediately extended it to gold-medal winning proportions in the opening 110 metres hurdles.

While Nixon looked a little ragged in posting 14.57 seconds, Eaton recovered from clattering the second barrier to run 13.92 to open a 118-point gap.

The discus, along with the javelin, is Eaton's weakest discipline and though his 45-metre throw on his third attempt was towards the back end of the field, it was good by his own standards.

The slightly-built Nixon's discus is even worse and although the world junior champion produced a hefty lifetime best of 42.38, he slipped down to fifth overall.

German Michael Schrader also managed a PB of 46.44 to climb into second place.

After seven events Eaton was on 6,280 points, Schrader second on 6,161 with fellow German Rico Freimuth moving up to third on 6,127 on the back of his best-of-the-day discus throw of 48.74.

The athletes next take on the usually interminable pole vault competition to test the dedication of the Luzhniki faithful - boosted in numbers during the morning session by several hundred Ukraine supporters clad in identical yellow or blue t-shirts.

Then comes the javelin before the finale of the 1,500 metres, where Eaton is very strong.

With double-defending world champion Trey Hardee out of the equation after no-heighting in Saturday's high jump, there seems nothing to stand in the way of 25-year-old Eaton's march to gold and the full house of Olympic and world titles as well as the world record.