When discussing the best athletes in the world, it would be a mistake to omit Ashton Eaton, who currently leads the decathlon with 4,661 total points.
The decathlon, which is essentially track and field's version of the gymnastics all-around competition, is a severely underrated sport. Athletes who are able to exude success in 10 very different events deserve much more credit than they get.
They are among the best overall athletes in the world, and Eaton is the best of the best.
The 24-year-old American, who set the world record for the decathlon with 9,309 points during the U.S. Olympic trials in June, is the favorite to take home gold, even though he was bested by countryman Trey Hardee at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu.
So far in London, Eaton is proving his proponents right. Let's take a look at his performance thus far.
Note: For a look at the full decathlon standings and results, click here.
Day 1 Results
Eaton may not be Usain Bolt, but he's certainly Bolt-like compared to the rest of the decathletes.
The 24-year-old raced out to a win in the 100, edging out Hardee, his stiffest competition. With a time of 10.35 seconds, Eaton received 1,011 points to get the event started off just how he wanted.
Hardee was just 0.7 seconds off Eaton's pace and tallied 994 points for his efforts.
Another event, another first-place finish for Eaton, whose jump of 8.03 meters was good enough to rack up 1,068 points.
This time around, however, Hardee finished fifth with a jump of 7.53. Nonetheless, the 942 points kept him firmly in second place overall, which is where he would stay throughout the day.
Kazakhstan's Dmitriy Karpov was the favorite in the shot put coming in, and he proved exactly why, as he launched the little steel ball 16.47 meters, almost an entire meter further than the second-place finisher, Pascal Behrenbruch.
Shot put has never been Eaton's best event, but his throw of 14.66, which netted him 10th place in the event, was all he had to do. He claimed 769 points for his effort, keeping him solidly in first place.
With an impressive leap of 2.11 meters by Cuban Leonel Suarez, Eaton had to settle for second place at 2.05 meters.
That mark actually tied Eaton with five other competitors, so even though he was in second by himself because of less total misses, he, like the other five, took 850 points for the event.
Once again, Eaton bested everyone else, racing around the track in 46.90 seconds, which was more than a second faster than Rico Freimuth, who finished second.
Trey Hardee came in third with a time of 48.11.
With five events down and five to go on Thursday, let's take a look at the leaders. Again, for a full look at the leaderboard, click here.
|1||Ashton Eaton||United States of America||4,661|
|2||Trey Hardee||United States of America||4,441|
|5||Hans Van Alphen||Belgium||4,342|
Three of Eaton's four best events (100, long jump and 400) occurred on Wednesday, so it's not surprising that he jumped out to such a big lead.
Nonetheless, you can't fault him for taking first place in each of those events. That's simply why he's so good and why he was such a big favorite coming in.
On Thursday, Eaton will unsurprisingly grab first in the 100-meter high hurdles while he just needs to hold on in the pole vault, javelin throw and 1500-meter race.
There's no question in mind Eaton will be able to do that and grab gold.
As far as silver goes, I don't see anyone catching World Champion Trey Hardee.
If the gold-silver combo ends up being anything different, consider it an incredibly shocking event.
Bronze will be much tighter. Damian Warner holds a slight lead, but he isn't great in the field events. Look for Leonel Suarez, who currently sits in sixth, to make the late run for third place. Arguably his three best events are pole vault, javelin and the long-distance run, the last three events.