Rio 2016 Olympics: Ashton Eaton wins decathlon, American women earn relay gold

August 21, 2016

The 2016 Rio Olympics have been filled with stirring performances, none more so than in track and field.  From Usain Bolt's quest to be history's greatest sprinter, to Wayde van Niekerk's incredible record-setting run from Lane 8 in the 400m, these Games have had countless memorable moments.  Below is the latest news from the track at Rio:

Ashton Eaton wins gold in decathlon

Ashton Eaton put himself into the history books this week, winning the 2016 Rio Summer Games decathlon on Thursday with an Olympic record-tying score of 8,893 points, as he claimed a share of the lone major international record he had yet to own in the sport.

Eaton matched the previous Olympic record set by Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic in 2004. He also became the first American to win back-to-back decathlon titles since Bob Mathias in 1948 and 1952.

Eaton adds the 2016 Olympic gold medal to the one he won in London in 2012. He won the IAAF World Championship in 2013 and 2015, having scored a world-record 9,045 points at the 2015 meet in Beijing.

Eaton was pushed the entire day by Damian Warner of Canada and Kevin Mayer of France, who actually led for a brief moment on Thursday.

Entering the day with a 121 point lead in the decathlon, Eaton began his march to history by running 13.80 in the 110 meter hurdles to garner an even 1,000 points. Warner ran faster – 13.58 – as the Canadian trimmed Eaton’s lead to 103 points.

The five-time NCAA champion for Oregon then threw a seasonal-best 149-3 in the discus to earn 777 points, and expand his lead over Warner to 115 points.

Eaton flirted with disaster in pole vault, needing third attempt clearances to get over both 16-0.75 and 16-8.75, before clearing his final bar at 17-0.25 on his second attempt. That mark was good for 972 points, as his overall lead grew to 124 points over Mayer, who tied for first in the pole vault at 17-8.5 to move into second place overall after eight events.

Eaton actually trailed in the overall standings after the first round of the javelin when Mayer unleashed a massive toss of 213-4, but Eaton improved on each of his throws, culminating in a best mark of 196-1. Still, Mayer netted 814 points to Eaton’s 734, which left the American just 44 points in front going into the 1,500 meters.

In the final event, Eaton stayed within a stride of Mayer for the first three laps, before breaking away on the final lap. Eaton was fourth overall in the event in 4:23.33, which earned 789 points and secured a 59-point victory over Mayer.

The Frenchman won the silver with 8,834 points and Warner got the bronze with 8,666 points.

Matthew Centrowitz ends 108-year drought in men's 1500m

In an inspiring performance, Matthew Centrowitz snapped a 108-year-old dry spell in the men’s 1,500 meters for the United States with a wire-to-wire victory Saturday at the Rio Olympic Games.

The last American 1,500 winner in the Olympics was Mel Shappard in 1908 – the same year the Chicago Cubs last won the World Series.

Centrowitz, the 2011 NCAA 1,500 meter champion for Oregon, took charge of the race from the outset, setting a pedestrian pace that none of his 12 competitors disrupted for three laps. Centrowitz then made an early move on the final lap, squeezing by on the inside with a timely elbow and perhaps catching some of his opposition off guard, and by the time the field responded is was too late.

Centrowitz won the gold in 3:50.00, holding off the finishing kick of Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria, who finished second in 3:50.11.  Nicholas Willis of New Zealand third in 3:50.24.

Among the big names defeated in Centrowitz's upset win was Kenya's Asbel Kiprop, the race favorite who won gold at the 2008 Beijing Games.

American women capture gold in 4x400m and 4x100m relays

In another wire-to-wire victory, Allyson Felix and Team USA held off a challenge from Jamaica to win gold in the women’s 4x400 meter relay.

Courtney Okolo got the Americans out front quickly, and Natasha Hastings and Phyllis Francis kept the United States in position before Allyson Felix brought the Americans home in 3:19.06. Jamaica won the silver in 3:20.34 and Great Britain finished in bronze position in 3:25.88.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, English Gardner and the U.S. women’s 4x100 meter relay team qualified for Friday’s final, but in a manner never before seen at the Olympic Games.

In the semifinal, the Americans dropped the baton on the second exchange between Allyson Felix and Gardner, but only after Felix was clearly bumped by a Brazilian runner.  The bump broke Felix’s momentum and prevented her from delivering the stick to Gardner.

After an appeal, The U.S. team was granted the opportunity to re-run their race, and needing to beat China’s time of 42.70 to advance, the American quartet easily qualified. With Gardner on the third leg, the United States actually turned in the fastest time among all teams on Thursday at 41.76.

The American women carried that momentum into the final, where despite running from a difficult Lane One assignment, they managed to still capture gold.

Tianna Bartoletta started things off properly with a great opening leg, passing the baton to veteran Felix, who came through with a vintage dynamic effort.

Gardner ran the third leg of Team USA’s 4x100 meter relay, and drew even with the Jamaicans around the corner as she handed the stick off to Tori Bowie. Bowie then ran away from the field on the anchor leg as the United States won in 41.01.

Jamaica got the silver in 41.46 with Great Britain earning bronze in 41.77.

Galen Rupp earns bronze in marathon

Running in only his second marathon, Oregon alum Galen Rupp took home the bronze medal in the final track and field event of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games Sunday morning.

Rupp challenged for the silver before settling in for the bronze. Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya won the marathon in 2:08:44. Feyisa Lilesa of Ethopia won silver in 2:09:54, with Rupp just behind, covering the 26.2 miles in 2:10:05.

Not too bad for a beginner.

IOC sanctions three Russian athletes for failing anti-doping tests at Beijing 2008

The IOC announced that three more Russian athletes have been disqualified from the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 -- Anastasia Kapachinskaya, Alexander Pogorelov, and Ivan Yushkov.

The additional analyses on samples collected during the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 and London 2012 were performed with improved analytical methods, in order to possibly detect prohibited substances that could not be identified by the analysis performed at the time of these editions of the Olympic Games.

Anastasia Kapachinskaya, 36, competing in the womens 400m and 4x400m relay events, has been disqualified from the Olympic Games Beijing 2008, in which she ranked 5th and 2nd with her teammates.

Reanalysis of Kapachinskayas samples from Beijing 2008 resulted in a positive test for the prohibited substances stanozolol and dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (turinabol).

The Russian Federation Team is disqualified from the womens 4x400m relay. The corresponding medals and diplomas are withdrawn and shall be returned.

Alexander Pogorelov, 36, competing in the decathlon event, has been disqualified from the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 in which he ranked 4th. Reanalysis of Pogorelovs samples from Beijing 2008 resulted in a positive test for the prohibited substance dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (turinabol).

Ivan Yushkov, 35, of the Russian Federation, competing in athletics (shot put event), has been disqualified from the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 in which he ranked 10th. Reanalysis of Yushkovs samples from Beijing 2008 resulted in a positive test for the prohibited substances stanozolol, oxandrolone and dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (turinabol).

IOC sanctions another Russian athlete from 2012 Olympics

The IOC announced that Russia's Evgeniia Kolodko has been disqualified from the Olympic Games London 2012.

Kolodko, 36, competing in athletics (shot put event), has been disqualified from the Olympic Games London 2012 in which she ranked 2nd and for which she was awarded the silver medal. Reanalysis of Kolodkos samples from London 2012 resulted in a positive test for the prohibited substances dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (turinabol) and ipamorelin.

By Staff of and news services

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