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Jun 23, 2012, 10.36 AM IST
UPDATE-1-OLYMPICS-DECATHLETE-EATON-MAKES-SPL:Decathlete Eaton makes splash at rainy trials
By Gene Cherry
EUGENE, Oregon (Reuters) - World silver medallist Ashton Eaton, accustomed to the rain in his native Oregon, splashed to a big first-day decathlon score at the U.S. Olympic trials on a chilly Friday.
The world indoor record holder posted record decathlon performances in the 100 metres and long jump, his first two events, and finished the day 17 points ahead of the pace Dan O'Brien marked to set the American decathlon record in 1992.
"It was one of the best first days I have ever seen," O'Brien told Reuters after Eaton clocked a total of 4,728 points from the five events.
Whether the 24-year-old can reach O'Brien's record of 8,891 points after Sunday's closing five events may depend on the weather, which is expected to be rainy once again.
He went into Sunday with a 322-point lead over world champion Trey Hardee. Olympic champion Bryan Clay was running third at 4,252 points.
The top three finishers in the trials, which continue through July 1, book tickets to London provided they meet the Olympic qualifying standard.
In Friday's only finals, U.S. record holder Galen Rupp clocked a meet record 27 minutes, 25.33 seconds to win the men's 10,000 metres and Amy Hastings took the women's race in 31:58.36.
Rupp was joined on the U.S. team by runner-up Matt Tegenkamp (27:33.94) and third-place finisher Dathan Ritzenhein (27:36.09).
Hastings's London team mates will be Lisa Uhl, the fourth-place runner, and Janet Cherobon-Bawcom, who finished seventh, the pair securing selection having already made the "A" qualifying standard.
Runner-up Natosha Rogers (31:59.21) failed to make the Olympic grade, while the third-placed Shalane Flanagan will run the marathon at London.
Top U.S. female sprinters Sanya Richards-Ross and Allyson Felix had little trouble with the wet conditions in advancing through qualifying rounds.
"Other than messing up my hair, it was fine," Richards-Ross quipped after jogging the last 100 metres in a steady rain to win her women's 400 preliminary.
The Jamaican-born American, who is bidding for spots on the American team in the 200 and 400, ran hard the first half of her race before easing off to finish in 51.69 seconds.
Three-times 200m world champion Felix, who will try to book places in the 100 and 200 for London, won her opening race in the shorter event in 11.19 seconds.
Tianna Madison, the 2005 world long jump gold medallist turned sprinter was even faster (11.10 seconds) while reigning world champion Carmelita Jeter clocked 11.20 in a separate race.
Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt topped the men's 400 preliminaries in 45.36 seconds with former Games gold medallist Jeremy Wariner 13th fastest of 16 qualifiers.
Kellie Wells ignored the wet track to clock an impressive 12.68 seconds in women's 100 hurdles qualifying.
Reigning Olympic champion Dawn Harper, world silver medallist Danielle Carruthers and 2004 Games winner Joanna Hayes, who is making a comeback at age 35, also advanced to Saturday's semi-finals along with Lolo Jones.
Eaton stole the limelight, however, as he ran 10.21 seconds to post the fastest ever 100 metres in a decathlon.
"Ashton Eaton is a true beast," tweeted 2004 Olympic 100m champion Justin Gatlin.
Eaton later leaped 8.23 metres, an unprecedented mark in the long jump leg of decathlon competition.
Although finishing fifth in the shot put, one of his weaker events, he closed out the day by high jumping 2.05 metres in the rain and winning the 400 in 46.70 seconds.
"What you're seeing is a culmination of everyone who supported me," Eaton said. "I just do not want to let anyone down."
(Editing by Ian Ransom)
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