Ashton Eaton captures 3rd straight world indoor heptathlon title
PORTLAND, Ore. — His gold medal was nice. His wife's meant even more.
That is what Ashton Eaton told the hometown crowd on Saturday night, drawing quite a few "Ahhs." Then again, he did win by a very comfortable margin — again.
Eaton captured his third straight heptathlon title at the world indoor track and field championships, taking all the suspense out of the competition with another dominating performance.
The only real drama was whether he could break his own indoor world mark, but an exhausted Eaton didn't have a burst in the 1,000 meters, the final event of seven. He finished with 6,470 points — 175 behind the indoor mark he set four years ago in Istanbul.
This has been quite a world indoor championships for Team Eaton, with his wife, Brianne Theisen-Eaton of Canada, winning the pentathlon title the day before with an incredible performance in the last event. He greeted her with a hug after her race. She greeted him this time, the crowd applauding for the first couple of multi-events who met at the University of Oregon.
"You know what, it didn't matter what happened to me today — (Brianne's performance) made the whole meet for me. You guys know, she stole the show," said Eaton, who beat Ukraine's Oleksiy Kasyanov by 288 points.
Eaton now has six straight major titles, including gold at the 2012 London Olympics. He will be the overwhelming favorite to defend his crown at the Rio Games.
His wife will be one of the favorites, too. Can both win in Rio?
"It can be done, of course," Eaton said. "We'll try everything we can to see if it can happen."
American Barbara Pierre used a blazing start to beat a favored Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands in the women's 60-meter final.
"The crowd was very welcoming, especially when we all had to stay in the back (for the individual introductions) and then come out and I heard my name and was like, `yeah,' said Pierre, who finished in a time of 7.02 seconds. "I felt like Ashton Eaton a little bit."
Pierre's performance was part of a banner night for the United States, which now has eight gold medals and 15 total heading into the final day of the competition Sunday.
Some of the biggest names in track — Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin and Allyson Felix — skipped the championships. The Russians aren't here, either, because of pending doping and corruption charges.
Boris Berian of Colorado Springs, Colorado, has been on quite a journey from fast food to the fast lane. Two years ago, he was working at McDonald's to fund his training. He ordered up a win in the 800 meters by taking the lead during the opening lap and then holding off a talented field.
"Got excited but stayed positive and trusted my training and hung on," explained Berian, who quit his job at McDonald's in November 2014.
Think this sort of day would ever arrive when working at the hamburger chain?
"Not like this. Not this fast," Berian said.
The most interesting look of the evening belonged to Italian high jumper Gianmarco Tamberi, who was clean shaven on the right side of his face and had stubble on the left.
By a razor-thin margin, he won the event over Robert Grabarz of Britain.
Tamberi's half-beard look at major meets has become his trademark. He is the consummate entertainer, too, shaking hands with the fans and later executing a perfect flip into the mat after his win.
In other finals Saturday:
● Dong Bin of China took gold in the men's triple jump and said the "future looks bright" for his nation in jumps.
● Czech Republic's Pavel Maslak earned the men's 400 title.
● Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela won the women's triple jump.
● Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands beat two Ethiopians to earn gold in the women's 1,500.
● Oluwakemi Adekoya of Bahrain held off Americans Ashley Spencer and Quanera Hayes to win the women's 400.
● Michelle Carter set an American indoor record to win the women's shot put crown. She launched it 66 feet, 3 3/4 inches to beat a field that included three-time world indoor champion Valerie Adams of New Zealand. She took third.
"I've been competing against Valerie for a long time, and she's done a lot for the sport and you can't take that away from her," said Carter, who also holds the U.S. outdoor record. "She's earned everything that she has.
"I'm looking forward to many great competitions this year. I think it's the year that women's shot put is really going to shine."