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Trey Hardee, photo by PhotoRun.net


Multiple Global Medalist Trey Hardee Successfully Defends Title


Eugene, Oregon

After a Day One which provided steady veteran performances mixed with surprising improvements by young emerging decathletes and saw a crushing lane violation in the 400 meters which spoiled Curtis Beach's deca scorecard, Day Two of the decathlon began with increased buzz.

Amazingly, it would appear that Beach's hopes to make the USA's world championship team are still alive. Notwithstanding losing 957 points when his event-leading time of 47.03 in the day-ending 400 meters was wiped out by a lane violation, Beach could still be named to the team under this scenario: If Zach Ziemek - in third place after Day One - finishes in the top 3 but fails to score a qualifying score of 8075 or better, then Beach - who already possesses a qualifying mark - would be named to the team.


As Day Two began, it became clear early that that Trey Hardee - who started the day 78 points behind first day leader Jeremy Taiwo - was getting an impressive rhythm going. In the opening event - the 110 hurdles - the two-time world champion skimmed the sticks in 13.71 for 1012 points, pushing his 6-event total to 5281 to overtake Taiwo [14.40/924 after 6 events] by 10 points. Double Z held on to third when the Wisconsin decathlete clocked 14.78 to raise his point total to 5212.

The hurdles were just the beginning for Hardee. Now in the lead with his confidence brimming, Hardee twirled of the discus out to 52.05m [170'9"]. The mark was the second best discus mark of his career and earned him 913 points. Taiwo [41.15m/135'] and Ziemek [37.27m/122'3"] lost more ground as the 7-event score stood at: Hardee 6294; Taiwo 6059; Ziemek 5821. Get away and let the Big Dog eat!

But there was more. Hardee - who earlier had emphatically declared that he didn't want to face the 1500 meters needing a top flight clocking to ensure his ticket to Beijing - was making sure his early Day Two performances would not put him in that position. In the pole vault, the former Texas athlete looked smooth as he cleared bar after bar, topping out when he finally made a PR clearance over 5.35m [17'6½]. Second place Taiwo [4.95m/16'2¼"] fell further back - now down 360 points after 8 events. But Ziemek - firmly in 3rd - actually gained ground on both Taiwo and the defending champion when he cleared 5.45 [17'10½] - a lifetime best.

It was on to the javelin throw and there was no stopping Hardee now. With a 360 point lead over Taiwo and with Ziemek another 82 points back, it was abundantly clear that the defending champion was on his way to a successful defense of his title in the 100th anniversary year of the decathlon. Hardee was not inclined to let up on the gas now. His top javelin throw - a magnificent heave of 61.92m [203'2"] - pushed him to a 9 event total of 8081. Taiwo [48.11m/157'10"] slipped to third when Ziemek's best throw of 55.43m [181'10"] elevated his point total to 7541 - 26 points ahead of Taiwo.

Lining up for the 1500 - the concluding event of this 2 day battle - Hardee was where he wanted to be. The successful defense of his deca title was a fait d'accompli. And he could cool it in the metric mile. Exercising a measured approach and savoring every moment, Hardee laid down a 4:45.77 1500 run to be the 5th athlete over the line as 9081 fans expressed their appreciation for his especially impressive Day Two performances. Gathering 644 points in the final event, Hardee finished with a total score of 8725 - a world leader by over 200 points and the second best deca score of his illustrious career. "Today, I started off with a good race, had a good throw, pole vaulted well, and before I knew it was almost over and I had a good score, " the former Longhorn star explains, adding, "And I got to run the 1500 with a smile on my face." Hardee was mildly surprised at how great felt after the Day One competition. "I woke up this morning. I texted my agent and my coach and said I was not sore. I'm not anything. I felt like I did not do anything yesterday. So I was in a good spot." The winner knew that this was not an opportunity to squander. "You only have so many of those little magical runs in your life and we knew that we needed to take advantage of it. And that is why passed the 5.45 bar and went for a big 18'3" bar there."

Upbeat in the mixed zone, Hardee - as he was prodded to do after Day One - used golfing lingo to describe his Day Two performances. "Birdie [110H]. Eagle [Discus]. Hole-In-One [Pole Vault]. Bogey [Javelin]. Par [1500]," quipped the champion as he described his "4 under" performance after grading his Day One as "1 over." "It was good," smiled Hardee. "And if I compare that with something later in the season where I am sharp and when I am really ready to go - this is the first dec of the year for me - the second one is always better."

Taiwo - who finished 2nd with 8264 points - was aware of the magical Day Two Hardee was having. "Ashton and Trey obviously are humongously amazing competitors," notes the former Husky with respect. "Being able to compete with them at this level and going to represent my country again in Beijing is just another exciting opportunity. Hey, I am one of the Americans."

Zach Ziemek - the young pup who finished third with a qualifying mark of 8107 - was, by his own admission, not yet prepared to fully comprehend his superlative 2-day performances and his place on the USA world team heading to Beijing. "I had a PR hurdles." explains Double Z as he recounts his day. "And then I went over to the discus and unfortunately threw over 11 meters under my PR, which really hurt. But I have a great vault background and I knew I could make up points there." And he did - with his all-time vault PR of 5.45m [17'10½']. In his quest to not simply finish third, but to insure he had a qualifying mark for Beijing, Ziemek received valuable instructions from his coach. "He said I had to throw over 55 [in the JT] and run 5:04 [in the 1500m]. But I wanted to get 8100 so I had to get under 5:00." Ziemek ran 4:58.93. "I was kinda close," he understates. And with a quick smile he adds, "But I did those things and I'm on the team."

If there had been any skeptics that may have been inclined to believe that Trey Hardee's better days might just be behind him, the two-time world decathlon champion neatly laid those thoughts to rest over the last two days. Instead, those notions more likely have been replaced with tantalizing thoughts of a possible C.K. Yang/Rafer Johnson-like decathlon battle that Hardee and Ashton Eaton may well wage later this summer in Beijing.

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Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.


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