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Team USA Opens World Championships

MOSCOW -  Team USA got off to a strong start during the first session of the IAAF World Championships as World Record holder and Olympic Champion Ashton Eaton took the lead in the men’s decathlon and multiple athletes secured their places in the next round of competition at  Luzhniki Olympic Stadium.

The World Championships boast nearly 50 hours of television coverage in the U.S. with broadcasts airing during all nine days of competition. View the complete broadcast schedule here.

As the favorite coming into the championships, it is no surprise Eaton (Bend, Ore.) sits in the lead of the men’s decathlon with 2,755 points after three events. Youngster Gunnar Nixon (Edmund, Okla.) got off to a strong start in his first senior championships to sit in third with 2,677 points at only 20-years-old. Reigning World Champion Trey Hardee (Austin, Texas) sits in fifth with 2,634 points, while Jeremy Taiwo (Renton, Wash.) is in 17th with 2,479 points.

Eaton was just shy of tying the World Championship record for the decathlon 100m as he ran the fastest time of the day in 10.35, only .01 off the record. Nixon set personal bests in both the long jump and shot put. First Nixon leapt to (7.80m/25-7.25) to improve his long jump best by more than seven inches, and in the shot put he launched a massive PR on his first attempt in 14.68m/48-2 to improve by 16 inches. Other notable results included a PR for Taiwo in the long jump in (7.53m/24-8.5) and a season best by Hardee in the 100m (10.52) and long jump (7.35m/24-1.5).

All three men advanced through the first round of the men’s 800m with ease, marking the first time since 1995 that three U.S. men will run in the semis. Brandon Johnson (Los Angeles, Calif.) took third in heat 2 as he crossed the line in 1:46.32. Duane Solomon (Los Angeles, Calif.) led his heat from the gun to win in 1:45.80 and advance automatically. Nick Symmonds (Springfield, Ore.) cruised through at 1:46.90 to win heat 4.

Gia Lewis-Smallwood (Champaign, Ill.) will advance to final of the women’s discus with the tenth-best throw of the qualifying rounds in 61.30m/201-1. This is the first time Lewis-Smallwood will advance to the final of an international championship. In their debut at the World Championships, Whitney Ashley (Moreno Valley, Calif.) and Liz Podominick (Beaverton, Ore.)  both threw in the first round of the morning. Ashley recorded a mark of 44.60m/146-4 on her only legal throw of the three attempts, and Podominick sent the disc 56.41m/185-1 on her only legal throw. Neither Ashley nor Podominick advanced to tomorrow’s final.

American record holder Brad Walker (Mountlake Terrace, Wash.) only needed one attempt to secure his place in the final of the men’s pole vault. Walker entered competition at 5.55m/18-2.5 and succeeded on his first attempt. Jack Whitt (Norman, Okla.)  and Jeremy Scott (Brookland, Ark.) both cleared 5.40m/17-8.5. Whit took two attempts at 5.40m, while Scott sailed over on his first attempt, but neither was unable to clear the next progression of the bar to advance to the final.

Athlete Quotes
Brandon Johnson, men’s 800m first round
“I feel good. I’m happy. This is my first world championships, so when I was warming up I had all the excitement and all the nerves, so I had to make sure I didn’t let it get the best of me. I just did what I needed to do and qualify. I’m pretty happy because I thought I might have to lead my round or do all the work. I don’t know who that guy was out in front, but he did all the work and I just rode the wave, so it was good.”

Duane Solomon, men’s 800m first round
The plan was to go out there and dictate the pace. We knew if I did that I would keep myself out of trouble and that I could come through and easily qualify, so that’s what we did. That was easy for me, I can do those all day.

Nick Symmonds, men’s 800m first round
“I didn’t have to expend too much energy to get through that one. I got out pretty well, I wanted to be top three from the gun and then just hold off anyone who wanted to challenge me for one of those spots. I think I ran 1:46.9, so that is obviously very comfortable to get through. There were a few guys there who weren’t going to just give it to me. I think there were four guys with 100 to go who really wanted it, but I knew that people would let up at the line and I just maintained all the way through.”

Gia Lewis-Smallwood, women’s discus qualification
“It feels amazing to make the final. It wasn’t the performance I wanted, but a really good discus thrower once told me, ‘The goal is to make it to the final - period. It doesn’t matter what you throw.’ Today it was just amazing to walk out into this stadium. I think I was a tad bit nervous, so I didn’t execute the same way I did in warm ups, but it really was the icebreaker I needed.”

Whitney Ashley, women’s discus qualification
“It's was very exciting. I had great practices coming in, I was confident.  It was a good experience, it really was. It was not the outcome I wanted, but I took a lot in and I'm definitely hungry for the next one.  Next time I'll be a real competitor.”

Liz Podominick, women’s discus qualification
“It happened really fast. I felt physically and mentally I was ready. Just the throw didn't come and I couldn't save the throw that was there. But it was a great experience and makes me realize that I'm ready for this and there's more to come.”

Brad Walker, men’s pole vault qualification
“One jump was all it took. I had a pretty good feel for the runway. It seems like a fast track. I really didn't get a chance to get into a real groove in the competition. I think that if we had kept jumping, my steps would have moved back. It's a great stadium; I like how it's built up around the top to keep the wind out.”

Jack Whitt, men’s pole vault qualification
“I wish I would've done better. I was having a hard time getting elevated on the bars that really mattered.  I’m not very happy with how I jumped. I am glad that I came in. It’s my first major championship and was able to at least make a few bars. “

Jeremy Scott, men’s pole vault qualification
“It seems like the prelims are so hard, especially early in the morning. I think I just got a little conservative out there with our adjustments and changing poles and everything. It came back and bit me in the end. I thought for sure I was going to be able to jump. Going in, I thought it was going to take 5.65 and I was confident that I was going to be able to jump that. I was really disappointed not to be able to make one bar less. Something that when you look at the numbers is really a pretty easy final to make.”

For more information on Team USA at the IAAF World Championships, visit Live results and startlists are available at

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