INDIANAPOLIS - Gunnar Nixon has been named USA Track & Field’s Athlete of the Week after winning gold in the decathlon and achieving a new American Junior record of 8,018 points at the recent World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain.
Nixon’s gold medal was the first ever American World Junior victory in the event. His score of 8,018 points beat the previous American Junior record set by current Arkansas teammate Kevin Lazas at the 2011 USA Junior Championships by a mere two points.
“I can’t explain this feeling – words can’t even describe,” Nixon said following competition. “I feel so lucky. I feel blessed – just to be here and be able to compete. I’m just so happy. The best part of the whole competition was the last 100 meters (of the 1500) because I knew I had the space I needed ahead of (Stein). I almost came into the tears the last 20 meters because I knew I had won it. No lows, no bad events in this meet – I’m so happy.”
Nixon, a freshman at the University of Arkansas, entered the final event of the decathlon trailing Australia’s Jake Stein by 86 points. Nixon needed to finish 14 seconds ahead of Stein in the 1,500-meters to win the gold. He responded with a fast final lap and ran an eventual personal best time of 4:22.36.
Starting the day with a time of 14.54 in the 110m hurdles and a mark of 42.23m/138-6 in the discus, Nixon put himself in second position behind Tim Dekker of the Netherlands. After getting a mark of 4.50m/14-9 in the pole vault, Nixon claimed the top spot. Stein then jumped in front of Nixon with a country best mark in the decathlon javelin of 69.61m/228-4 but Nixon’s throw of 56.25m/184-6 kept him in the the hunt for the overall win.
Nixon’s American junior record comes on the heels of Ashton Eaton’s world record of 9,039 set in June at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field.
Now in its 11th year, USATF’s Athlete of the Week program is designed to recognize outstanding performers at all levels of the sport. USATF names a new honoree each week and features the athlete on www.usatf.org. Selections are based on top performances and results from the previous week.
2012 Winners: January 5, Landon Peacock; January 11, Kirubel Erassa; January 18, Shalane Flanagan; January 26, John Nunn; February 1, Gunnar Nixon; February 8, Jenn Suhr; February 14, Jillian-Camarena Williams; February 22, Brycen Spratling; February 28, Chaunte Lowe; March 7, Eric Broadbent; March 14, Ashton Eaton; March 21, Jeanne Daprano; March 27, Wallace Spearmon; April 3, Trevor Barron; April 9, Kevin Castille; April 18, Brittney Reese; April 25, Amy Sproston; May 2, Leo Manzano; May 9, Stephanie Brown-Trafton; May 16, Allyson Felix; May 23, Nick Hartle; May 30, Kimberlyn Duncan; June 6, Jessica Cosby and Meghan Vogel; June 13, Jesse Williams; June 20, Shelby Ashe; June 27, Ashton Eaton; July 4, Allyson Felix; July 12, Christian Cantwell; July 18, Gunnar Nixon