Ashton Eaton celebrates his clearance in the decathlon pole vault at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Report: decathlon pole vault – Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Trust Ashton Eaton to turn a near-disaster into a success.

The decathlon leader cleared his opening height of 4.70m in the pole vault, but then failed his first two tries at 4.90m. A third miss would have put him in danger of being caught in the last two events – an unthinkable prospect heading into this competition.

But Eaton kept his cool and got over 4.90m on his third try. Wanting to keep something in reserve for the energy-sapping 1500m later this evening, he then skipped to 5.10m, but once again needed all three attempts to get over.

Eaton then moved to 5.20m and succeeded at his second attempt. He ended with three unsuccessful tries at 5.30m, but his 5.20m clearance is enough to keep him on track for the Olympic record and perhaps even the third 9000-point performance of his career.

Kevin Mayer continued his rise – quite literally – as he cleared a lifetime best of 5.40m. With two relatively low-risk events left, the javelin and 1500m, Mayer now looks destined to take the silver medal.

Mayer was one of two men left in the competition as the bar reached its final height of 5.50m. Mayer ran through his first two tries at that height and then aborted his final attempt was he was in the air. European champion Thomas van der Plaetsen was fairly close on his last attempt at 5.50m, but settled for a best clearance of 5.40m, taking him from 15th to eighth overall.

World silver medallist Damian Warner equalled his season’s best of 4.70m, but with Mayer having the competition of his life, the Canadian slipped from second to third in the overall standings, 268 points behind Eaton and 144 points behind Mayer.

Germany’s Kai Kazmirek made up more ground on Warner after clearing 5.00m. The German remains in fourth place overall but is now just 65 points shy of Warner.

Cuba’s Leonel Suarez may still be down in 10th place after clearing a season’s best of 4.90m in the pole vault, but the 2008 and 2012 Olympic bronze medallist will make up significant ground in the next event, the javelin.

With nine men clearing 5.00m, five men over 5.20m and two over 5.40m, it was one of the best quality decathlon pole vault competitions in Olympic history.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF