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US Still Rules in Decathlon

Americans dominate sport heading into London Olympics
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2012 5:12 PM CDT
US Still Rules in Decathlon
Bryan Clay runs the decathlon 100-meter race during U.S. track and field championships in Eugene, Ore., Thursday, June, 23, 2011.   (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

(Newser) – In 2008, China beat out the US for most Olympic gold medals; this year, it's poised to garner the most total medals. Olympic glory has become a little less common stateside—but when it comes to the decathlon, we're set to do ourselves proud. The three favorites for medals this year—Beijing Olympic champ Bryan Clay, last year's top scorer Ashton Eaton, and defending world champion Trey Hardee—all hail from these shores, the Wall Street Journal notes.

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The US dominated the decathlon between 1912 and 1976, then went through a dry spell. Its return to glory is thanks in part to support from Visa. The credit-card company gave US decathletes a relatively modest sum of $200,000 a year between 1990 and 2000, but it seems to have been enough. The program's effects are still visible: As a kid, Clay's training was Visa-backed; Eaton's coach, Harry Marra, co-founded the USA-Visa program; Hardee's coach was on Visa's decathlon team. "It's heartwarming to see what we started still going forward," says Marra. (Read more London stories.)

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