Ashton Eaton of the United States won gold in the decathlon yesterday, cementing his place among the all-time great Olympic athletes ... if not atop that list.
Eaton dashed, hurdled, jumped and vaulted through 10 events, racking up 8,869 points - short of his own world record, but enough to secure the gold.
What the 24-year-old also won is renewed prominence for the decathlon, producer of icons from Jim Thorpe to Bruce Jenner (yes, that Bruce Jenner).
Considered by many to be the greatest decathlete ever, whether that means Ashton Eaton is the greatest athlete ever, or even now, is up for debate.
Usain Bolt proclaimed himself the greatest ever last night after winning the 200-meters. At Eaton’s news conference, he was asked the same question.
Ashton paused, but Trey Hardee, a fellow American decathlete who won the silver medal Thursday with 8,671 points, interjected on his behalf.
“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.
He cited the history of the decathlon, dating back to ancient times, and the unparalleled rigors of competing in 10 events over two days.
Someone relayed Bolt’s comments to Hardee, and he fired off this salvo: “Just because you’re fast doesn’t make you an athlete,” he said.
Later, when someone relayed this to Bolt, he laughed and said that Ashton Eaton deserved the title, considering he had to do 10 events.