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Preview of US Trials 2011 - Ashton Eaton (20)

Chris Vlamynck
June 21, 2011

Next Thursday the trials will start with a man participating in the decathlon that every fan of decathlon is talking about.  This winter he broke the heptathlon world record. If it wasn’t of having some trouble in two jumping events, his points total would have stand 200 points higher than the next best performance ever. In a few days he certainly hopes to have those 5 points that Sebrle once mentioned to break a world record. Arriving with a healthy body, good weather, good wind, no injuries and a little bit of … luck! Ashton Eaton born January  the 21th 1988, height 185 cm and weighing 86 kg has been showing very good form this year.

Eaton a football tailback and a wrestler at Mountain View, had never even heard of the two-day, 10-event competition until late in his career at Mountain View High. “My coach, Tate Metcalf, told me what it was as I was getting recruited to colleges,” says Eaton, a state champion in the 400 meters and long jump and second in the 200 as a senior. “I was like, ‘Oh, that sounds cool.’ Eaton’s first decathlon was at Tucson Arizona (6977 points) in 2007 . Little more than three years later, he was ranked second in the world. He is only 23 now, competing on a world stage in a discipline that takes many years to master.

The throwing events are Eaton’s only weakness, but he has been working hard on them this year, spurred on by comments that were broadcast to the whole of the USA in 2009! “Since Berlin I have concentrated a lot on my throws,” explained Eaton. “After the World Championships I remember going online to watch a recap of the decathlon. The announcer on the broadcast called me ‘an abysmal shot putter’ and that really fired me up. I want to show that I’m more of a complete all-rounder, not just a sprints and jumps type of athlete.”

Ashton Eaton was slogging through yet another frustrating shot put practice when, in disgust, he picked up an indoor shot and threw  it toward a wall. And when he did that, something clicked. The shot came off his hand with more force behind it. Coach Harry Marra was watching. “It was a little crow-hop and he was pushing the heck out of it,” Marra said. “He did it kind of sideways and then I asked him to turn it.” Eaton adds an extra rotation at the end. Eaton got back into the ring and began to experiment with a shuffle step, molding it into a workable technique that is at the root of his meter-plus improvement since last year. He achieved a new personal best at Tallinn, Estonia, a key piece of his latest world record in the indoor heptathlon. Eaton doesn’t think the track world will spin on its axis the way it did when Fosbury revolutionized the high jump. But could it cause a ripple? “Well, maybe for smallish decathletes,” Eaton said.

“How innovative is it? Marra was asked. “ A lot of young shot putters have used it in the past.” Some call it the 'Russian Two Step" or the “skip glide. “The goal of any thrower is to get into a functional position in order to apply forces,” Marra said. “We fooled around with it to get him into a functional position. Nine times out of 10, he can apply the force and go. With the glide, he may only get it one out of 10 times.”Eaton has improved his personal best from 13m12 to 14m74. “This technique allows me to get more power out of my legs,” Eaton said. “It works for him, puts him in a good position” Marra said “His forte is that he’s very explosive and dynamic. When he gets into good position he can throw the thing pretty far.” In four  meets (this season) he had four PRs.” Eaton looks set to smash his PBs in the discus and javelin outdoors this year too. It seems that the throws are getting better every competition. It is also said that Ashton was throwing the Discus 49-50 meters in practice. There are two versions of his improvement  on the 14th of April this year! Doug Binder wrote for Track Focus that Eaton threw 149 feet 2inches and this was calculated 45.50 or 45.51. But 149 f 2 is 45.46 meters! Ken Goe from Oregon where Ashton lives wrote 152 feet 7 inches and this ends with “51” or 46.51 meters. I favor Ken Goe for the two reasons I mentioned and for some replies I read on internet. In the javelin Ashton went this year from 53.93 first to 56.59 and then to 57.23 meters.

Is he a hard working athlete? “Ashton is just a freak of an athlete,” says UO teammate Galen Rupp, the national 10,000-meter champion. “It is unbelievable to watch what he does in practice. (Ex-Duck) Tommy Skipper was one of those guys, too. “Ashton also has a great work ethic. The throws and jumps are his weak points, and he has made a great effort to improve on those, and that’s hard to do. He has really put his mind to it. That’s why he has taken such big steps. He has so much room for improvement. He is still pretty new to the decathlon. At that age, to be competing with guys who are medalists at the Olympics, he has a real bright future.”

Should we think of the decathlon champion as the greatest athlete in the world? “It’s hard to say,” says Ashton Eaton. “There are a lot of really great athletes who don’t do the decathlon. I would say (the decathlon champion) is the world’s most versatile athlete.” Will he win at the trials? Nobody knows, Ashton once said “It only takes one event to screw up, but you also have 10 events to make something happen, you never know with the decathlon.”

A little résumé

100 meters. Ashton did a 10.33 with a minus wind(-1.0) and a 10.19 with favorable wind of +2.7 in 2010. Both winds can be acceptable in the decathlon. He increased his speed this winter in the 60 meters and in both distances in the hurdles. The expectation is that under the same circumstances (wind) he can do better this year.

Long Jump. Commenting on his heptathlon this winter Ashton said “I felt I had it in me to jump at least 8.20 but unfortunately I could not do it (in Tallin).” He’s pb is still 8.04 meters.

Shot Put. He went from 14.18 to 14.22 to 14.45 to 14.74 (=48’2 ½) (22/2; 28/2; 05/02; 02/04). Last year he stood at 13.12.

High Jump. Personal record 2.11 indoor and 2.05 outdoors. On April 2 when he broke his javelin pr, he did a  very close attempt to 2.12.

400 meters. Pb 46.28 Eugene 2010. This year he ran a remarkable 45.91 sec split time in a 4x400 relay!

110 m Hurdles. April 23: 13.57 (+2.5). May 06: 13.52 (+0.9), it was a rainy day and he was partly disappointed not to have run under 13.4. June 04: 13.35 (+1.8) no athlete participating in decathlon and performing over 8000 points has ever done a better pr.

Discus. From 43.71 in 2010 he went to 44.19 (April 1), then moved to – depending on the source – at least 45.46 (or 149’2). According to Ken Goe 152’7 or 46.51 meters.

Pole vault. Having a best performance of 5.26 meters he did this winter 5.20 in the heptathlon. At a meet in Oregon he tried only one jump and cleared 4.90 immediately .

Javelin. Since 2008 his best javelin was 53.93 meters. In march, he first threw 56.59 and later on April 2 he threw 57.23 meters at Cal Poly. (187’9 ¼)

1500 meters.  The only indication we have, is the fact that Ashton ran a 800 meters in January in 1min 55.90 sec (indoor) and that he had no hare in the 1000 meters when he broke the world record this winter, running a very respectable time of 2 minutes 34.74 – not even showing signs of exhaustion after the race. (When he ran 2 seconds faster in 2010 -  a few athletes ran in front of him, as Beach even broke the heptathlon world record on the distance.)

Here is my estimation for  breaking the American record:

10,25/788/14.51/203/46,31//13,51/45.00/510/56.00/4.19,01 or 8892 points. (Just a fantasy.)

If you want to follow the trials in Europe, you have to count  a time difference of approximately 6 hours.

Chris Vlamynck for Decathlon 2000

Comments (20)

Jseven1 wrote on June 21, 2011
I wonder why Eaton doesn't try the full spin technique in the shot. I saw a recent discus workout video and he looked quick and agile through the discus ring spin. Wouldn't a spin in the shot ring take advantage of his speed and compensate for his lack of bulk?

I certainly do not think your American Record prediction is a fantasy; unless he is just trying to qualify for World's (top 3). If you want to up the ante to the next higher record perhaps you could say fantasy -- perhaps not. He will be competing before an adoring crowd against good competition in good weather.
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eierluke wrote on June 22, 2011
I've seen Aston Eatons two great hepathlons on youtube and have to give that the fluid way he moves his body with such a gracefulness is really fun to wath. On the other side We've to consider that now after more than 4 years of experience in the decathlon, he in the technical disciplines he should have reached a higher level. No doubt about his athletic potential, but to be a top decathlete inheres to some degree an ability to read a technique and to translate it into measurable output. In this departement he does not appear to be the fastest learner. And that he's "alredy" at age 23 does not make it any easier for him; he might reach the 9000, but it wont come tomorrow, it'll go step by step and will take him another few years of hard work. Right now I expect Eaton to score in the 8650 to 8750 range.
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keessluys wrote on June 22, 2011
World record for Eaton? No. Not yet, maybe.
Let’s take Sebrles 9026 points:
10.64, 8.11, 15.33, 2.12, 47.79, 13.92, 47.92, 4.80, 70.16, 4.21.98

For Eaton this means:
100m: advantage
longjump: problem
shot: problem
highjump: problem
400m: advantage
110h: advantage
discus: problem
polevault: advantage
javelin: BIG PROBLEM
1500m: eaqual

When Sebrle made the world record, he had a great 1st day: 4675 points.
Eatons best 1st day was last year in Eugene when he scored 4500 points with: 10.37, 7.90, 12.60, 2.02, 46.28.
Well, let’s give Eaton 2 meters extra in the shot. It gives (just) 122 points extra. So 1st day: 4622 points.

To improve the world record with just 1 point Eaton needs a score of 4405 points on day 2.
It would be the third (!) best performance ever, behind the two scores of Dave Johnson (4455 and 4411).
Impossible job.
Let’s hope the BIG JAVELIN-PROBLEM will be solved in the coming years.
If not, the World Record will be out of reach.
Ashtons 56.00 meters gives 678 points, Romans 70.16 gives 892 points.

It all depends on the jav.
Chris Huffins, Dean Macey, Dimitri Karpov, Maurice Smith, Oleksiy Kasyanov….. they all missed medals or titles (Huffins in the Olympic Games of 2000!) because of lack of skill in the javelin.
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Daniel Urien wrote on June 22, 2011
I agree Keessluys.

Before expecting the world record, Ashton should be regular beetween 8.600 8.800 points (today, 8457 ! What a margin to go !).

This year, I think Ashton could made a solid 8.700 points (this week, or at the Daegu WC), and next year something like 8.900, with regular 15.00 - 48.00 - 65.00 in throwing events. He'll be 24 years old at the London OG, and time is on his side !
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Jseven1 wrote on June 22, 2011
I would suggest Eaton has a BIG advantage over Sebrle in the 100 and the hurdles. The roughly 200 point difference equals Sebrle's BIG advantage in the javelin. I believe the LJ is an equal. I will be at the event and look forward to an entertaining competition. Sebrle is, and has been a great champion and record holder but his heir apparent has been identified. Time will tell.
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B.J. Parish wrote on June 23, 2011
I am sorry but if you do not think ashton is a fast learner you are crazy! apparently you people do not understand the college track and field system.
1st Ashton has only recently this year took on the decathlon full time
2nd Ashton ran in many duel meet conference meets and many other meets where he only did hurdles and long jump and 100, events he could score in
3rd he has improved huge amounts in his first year doing the decathlon fulltime(throws)
4th I would never underestimate Ashton at home in Eugene!
I am not saying he will break the world record or american record but i think he has improved and he is a fast learner look at how fast he became a world class hurdler! so many countries would be happy to have a hurdler like him or a long jumper like him or a 100 or 400 guy like him.
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olorin wrote on June 23, 2011
Jseven,
I would add the 400 to the adventages that Eaton got over Sebrle.
I believe that the WR is in his reach today, but he will need the perfect competition.
For example:
10.35, 7.90, 14.80, 2.08, 46.1, 13.45, 46.00, 5.20, 58.00, 4:20.00
are all within his current form and will give him 9,030 WR.
But, I also believed in the past that Clay (and Hardee) can break this record and proven (so far) wrong. So having the potential is obviously not enough.
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keessluys wrote on June 23, 2011
Yes, B.J. Parish, Eaton is a fast learner. But that does not mean he should be a fast learner in all events.
I sure hope he is, but history tells that some decathletes never really learn in specific throws or specific jumps or specific runs.
Sebrle told me e.g. about Attila Zsivotsky, who never did a real good long jump. He just could not do it.
The same goes for guys like Karpov, Smith and Kasyanov in the javelin. They will never learn.
Let's hope Eaton does. And finally makes an end to the 9026.
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eierluke wrote on June 23, 2011
100m:
1. Eaton 10,33
2. Clay 10,64
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eierluke wrote on June 23, 2011
10,33 / 7,69 / 14,00 / 2,03 / 47,00 // 13,67 / 43,50 / 5,00 / 55,00 / 4:28,00 = 8600
10,33 / 7,80 / 14,30 / 2,05 / 46,70 // 13,58 / 44,50 / 5,10 / 57,00 / 4:24,00 = 8800

(10,33 / 7,80 / 14,30 / 2,06 / 46,50 // 13,58 / 45,50 / 5,20 / 57,50 / 4:22,00 = 8891)

Don't know the high jump steps, so I'm just fooling around. Even though eaton had a perfect start at 10,33, I still think that for an US record everything would nearly have to pan out perfect, which rarely happens.
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eierluke wrote on June 23, 2011
Eaton has just finished the long jump with 7,80
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eierluke wrote on June 24, 2011
Shot put:
R.Harlan 16,51
B.Blay 14,25
A.Eaton 14,14

Age seems to take its toll on Clay (in case that there is no hidden injury in place?). He lacks explosiveness and appears just like a shadow of himself anymore.
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eierluke wrote on June 24, 2011
Eaton has completed day 1 with:
high jump: 2,05
400m: 46,35
Day one = 4604 pts, this is 104 pts above his PB of 4500 on his way to the 8457 pts he made one year ago in Eugene.
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eierluke wrote on June 24, 2011
110 m Hurdles
Eaton: 13,52 (+1,6 m/s)
No weak event so far, he appears to be better than I've expected.
If he "just" finishes with his personal records within a decathlon:
43,71 / 5,10 (5,15 in reality)/ 53,93 / 4:20,53 he'd land at 8777 pts
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othoma wrote on June 24, 2011
good job for Ashton so far, he can attack top ten all time (8784 of Tom Pappas)
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Daniel Urien wrote on June 25, 2011
In the junior decathlon competition, kevin Lazas can broke the world junior record (with international junior implements) : before the 1.500, he heads the meet with 7.400.

With 4.34 at the 1.500, he breaks the WR (and his PB is 4.36.34) !
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othoma wrote on June 25, 2011
8.729 pts for Ashton , congratulation to very good result
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eierluke wrote on June 26, 2011
8016 is a great accomplishment by Kevin Lazas (born 1992).
Just to set it in proper relation of age 19 or younger performances under senior conditions:
8257 Y. Garcia '07
8114 M. Kohnle '89
8102 V.Külvet '81
8082 D,Thompson '77
8041 Qi Haifeng '02
8036 C.Schenk '84
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eierluke wrote on June 26, 2011
Thank you Chris Vlamynck for your preview and the link, you've posted.
While Eaton dominated the competition at will, Trey Hardee has also been great at the trials.
Already qualified for the decathlon he just took one attempt in the pole vault and cleared 5,05 with ease. Instead of continuing, he participated in the 110 m Hurdles of the specialists and (after completed a wind assisted 13,62 earlier this year) looked great and ran a pb in 13,69.
Things might get interesting at the world championsships ...
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Illimar Pilk wrote on Sep 01, 2011
he can do a new world record
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