Sat, Aug 29, 2015 - Page 20 News List

Ashton Eaton surges to decathlon lead

DIP TO WIN:Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands set a European record to win the 200m final ahead of Jamaica pair Elaine Thompson and Veronica Campbell-Brown

AP and AFP, BEIJING

Taiwan’s Hsiang Chun-hsien competes in the qualifying round of the men’s high jump at the World Championships at the National Stadium in Beijing yesterday.

Photo: AFP

After a two-year absence, Ashton Eaton needed only 10.23 seconds to establish himself again as the favorite to win the decathlon at the world championships.

That was how long it took the American to run the 100m in a championship decathlon record yesterday at the start of the two-day competition.

Eaton immediately followed that up by winning the long jump with a leap of 7.88m. A ninth-place finish in the shot put left him in a strong position, but his advantage over Damian Warner of Canada was trimmed to 56 points after Warner had a season-best performance in the high jump, clearing 2.04m.

However, Eaton set a world record in the decathlon’s 400m race, winning his last event of the day in 45 seconds.

That gave him 4,703 points overall after five events, a lead of 173 over Warner.

Although Eaton is back on the track, American teammate Trey Hardee is as good as out after injuring his back in the long jump and slumping to last place overall.

Last season, Eaton took a break from the most bruising and draining competition in the sport and centered on experimenting with the 400m hurdles — which is not even a decathlon discipline. He did not complete a decathlon this year before arriving in Beijing.

WALKING

For Chinese fans, all the excitement came early as China finally earned their first gold of the event after Liu Hong led a 1-2 finish ahead of teammate Lu Xiuzhi in the 20km walk.

Despite the early-morning start, tens of thousands of home fans packed the stands in the “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium to welcome the walkers and cheer their first victory as the championships headed into the final weekend.

In a tight finish after they walked together almost the whole race, Liu barely edged Lu, with both finishing in 1 hour, 27 minutes, 45 seconds. The pair then fell into each other’s arms and soaked up the adoration of the crowd with the red Chinese flag hanging over their shoulders.

SPRINTING

Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers smashed a European record that has stood since the 1970s as she won 200m gold with an electrifying run.

The 100m silver medallist ran 21.63 seconds, the fourth-fastest time in history, as she lunged at the line to beat Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson, who clocked a personal best of 21.66 seconds.

It was a remarkable win for Schippers, 23, who eclipsed the European record of 21.71 seconds set by Marita Koch in 1979 and matched by fellow East German Heike Drechsler in 1986.

Only Americans Marion Jones and world record-holder Florence Griffith-Joyner have run the 200m faster than Schippers.

Two-time Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica claimed bronze.

With Thompson on her inside, Schippers was chasing shadows coming off the bend in lane six and realising the Jamaican was marginally ahead of her, the Dutch athlete plugged away down the final straight.

Schippers caught the Jamaican and produced a savage dip at the line for victory before celebrating with family members in the stands.

HIGH JUMP

Defending champion Bohdan Bondarenko and 2013 world championship medalists Mutaz Essa Barshim and Derek Drouin were among the leaders in high jump qualifying.

Nine jumpers cleared 2.31m and five more qualified for the final at 2.29m.

Drouin, the Olympic and world bronze medalist, did not miss any attempts at five marks, including 2.31m, while Barshim missed his first attempt at 2.29m.

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