Ashton Eaton (Getty Images)
Rio de Janeiro - American
Ashton Eaton equalled the Olympic record when retaining his decathlon
crown on Thursday, but he was pushed all the way by France's Kevin
Eaton amassed 8 893 points in the gruelling 10-discipline event to
tie the Czech Republic's Roman Sebrle record set at the 2004 Athens
The American joined an elite pantheon of decathlon greats who have
won back-to-back Olympic golds, Bob Mathias (1948, 1952) and Daley
Thompson (1980, 1984) the other two to have achieved the feat.
"I was ready to run myself into the hospital tonight," said Eaton.
"I'm just glad it wasn't an easy walk through.
"The young Frenchman, Kevin Mayer, was there to push me to the test and I think I passed the test. I'm glad he was there."
Eaton added: "Decathlon is an exclusive company. I'm just happy to be part of the decathlon family regardless of the records.
"Bob Mathias and Daley Thompson, those guys are awesome and to be in company of two-time medallists is great.
"I was not aware of Daley when I was growing up," he added, refusing
to disclose whether he was thinking of going for third gold at the Tokyo
Games in 2020.
Eaton hinted that the run-in to the Rio Games had been tougher than that of the London Olympics.
"The second time around, it so far feels about the same," he said of his second Olympic gold.
"I would say that the lead up was quite a bit more difficult these last four years."
Eaton's victory extended his remarkable unbeaten streak in combined
events competition that stretches back to his triumph in London in 2012.
Mayer won silver with a French record of 8 834 with Canada's Damian Warner taking bronze (8 666).
But it all came down to the final event, the 1 500m, with Mayer in for a chance of victory himself, albeit a slim one.
The Frenchman, winning his country's first decathlon medal since 1948, needed to beat Eaton by seven seconds.
But Eaton moved past Mayer with 200m of the 1 500m to go to make sure of the win.
"Ashton is a real example for decathlon. To be so close to him, well I
hope that in the world championships next year it'll be a close
battle!" said Mayer.
Eaton had at one stage been on target to better his own world record or at least a 9 000+ score, but just faded away.
His racked up bests of 10.46 in the 100m, 7.84m in the long jump,
14.74m in the shot put, 2.01m in the high jump, 46.07 in the 400m,
13.58 in the 110m hurdles, 45.49m in the discus, 5.20m in the pole
vault, 59.77m in the javelin before clocking 4:23.33 in the 1 500m.