Friday, August 19, 2016

Jeremy Taiwo finishes Olympic decathlon in 11th place with 8300 points...

RIO DE JANEIRO—University of Washington alum Jeremy Taiwo  (above/photo courtesy University of Washington) finished eleventh in the decathlon at the Olympics with a ten-event total of 8300 points Thursday at Estádio Olímpico João Havelange.

Taiwo began day 2 by running the 110 hurdles in 14.57 to take third in his heat, scoring 902 points, despite hitting hurdles in the middle of the race.

After a foul in round 1, the Newport HS and Renton resident threw a sub-par 130-11 (39.91m), almost 11 1/2 feet off his decathlon best of 141-7 (43.16m).

He rebounded in the pole vault by tying his decathlon personal best of 16-4.75 (5.00m) to capture 910 points, despite needing three attempts at that height and the previous height of 16-0.75 (4.90m).  He then had two decent shots at a new decathlon PR of 16-8.75 (5.10m) which would’ve given him 941 points.  Taiwo’s score after eight events was 6894, good for sixth overall

The javelin, which is one of Taiwo’s weakest events, proved to be his undoing for a top-eight finish, as he only mustered up a toss of 168-3 (51.29m), worth 608 points, as he dropped from sixth place overall after the pole vault to twelfth entering the 1500 with a nine-event total of 7502 points, 113 points out of eighth place.

In the 1500, he finished with the third fastest time of the day at 4:21.96 to finish with the final score of 8300 points.  Taiwo was one of eleven men to crack 8300 points, the first time that many athletes have broken that barrier in Olympic competition.

To understand how tight the finish was, had he somehow found 92 points is the previous nine points, that score would’ve given him a seventh place finish, which is what teammate Zach Ziemek finished in.

Afterwards, he told reporters gathered in the mixed zone, “I don’t know if I was overly excited for this meet or not. I was thrilled to be here and do that, I didn’t sleep the night before and the night in-between. So to come out here and finish and with an ok score, I surprised myself. I know that practice isn’t always perfect coming into big meets, and there’s a lot of pressure and expectations pretty much throughout my life and from all of the people that I have been around. I am proud of myself to have gotten here and finished a championship decathlon (in his two previous world championship appearances, he failed to finish in Moscow and Beijing), and to be 11th in the world in this event is just awesome. I know a lot of things could have gone better, probably for a lot of people, and I didn’t have one of those outstanding days with a lot of PB’s and stuff, but once again I’m happy about that.”

Prohibitive favorite and University of Oregon alum Ashton Eaton won his second straight Olympic title, scoring 8893 points to tie the Olympic record set by the Czech Republic’s Roman Sebrle in Athens in 2004.  France’s Kevin Meyer used personal bests in the 100, 400, shot and pole vault to come within 59 points of Eaton with 8834 points, while Canada’s Damian Warner was third with 8666 points.

Team USA highlights from Thursday included Kerron Clement winning the men’s 400 hurdles in a time of 47.73 eight years after taking a silver medal in Beijing.

In one of the more bizarre happenings of the morning session, second runner Allyson Felix’s arm was bumped by a Brazilian runner approaching the second exchange, causing her to miss the pass to second leg English Gardner.  However, some on-the-fly coaching from Felix gave the USA a chance to protest, as she picked up the baton in the zone, handed it to Gardner, and told her to get the baton around the track.  Gardner then handed off to Morolake Akinosun in the zone, who jogged the baton to the finish. 

After being disqualified for passing out of the zone, a protest by USA Track & Field led to Brazil’s disqualification for interference. Team USA was allowed to re run the race solo, and finished with a time of 41.77, the fastest time of the day.

Former Oregon high school standout Ryan Crouser smashed the Olympic record n the shot put, throwing 73-10.75 (22.52m) as Team USA went 1-2, with reigning world champ Joe Kovacs relegated to second at 71-5.5 (21.78m).

Delilah Muhammad led a 1-3 finish in the women’s 400 hurdles, running 53.13, while Ashley Spencer set a personal best of 53.72.

No Washington athletes are competing on Friday, with only Washington State alum Bernard Lagat and former Emerald Ridge HS standout Hassan Mead left.  Both will run in the finals of the mens’ 5000 on Saturday at 5:30pm Seattle time (9:30 pm in Rio).

NOTE:  The IAAF and USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

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