By RAF CASERT, Associated Press
ISTANBUL (AP) — Ashton Eaton took a big lead in the heptathlon Saturday at the world indoor championships and could beat his own world record for gold.
The American raced into the lead when the competition began Friday, setting a personal best of 26 feet, 9 1/4 inches in the long jump. He also won the 60 meters, 60-meter hurdles and the pole vault, making up for third-place finishes in the shot put and high jump. The seventh and last event, scheduled later Saturday, was the 1,000 meters.
The 24-year-old Eaton has 5,690 points, well ahead of Oleksiy Kasyanov of Ukraine (5,224) and Artem Lukyanenko of Russia (5,148).
Eaton has 55 more points than he did at the same stage when he set the world record last year in Tallinn, Estonia. His final score there was 6,568 points.
Following an opening day full of complaints about bad acoustics that led to confusion at the start of several races, runners exercised caution in the starting blocks Saturday.
Liu Xiang said he was forced to react to British rival Andy Pozzi next to him instead of the starter before making up ground and finishing second in his heat of the hurdles.
"I waited for the athlete on my right to go off to start," the former world indoor champion said. "The starter speaks with a low voice and it was hard for me to understand his 'ready.'"
In the women's 60, two-time Olympic 200 champion Veronica Campbell-Brown also bided her time in the blocks, but had more than enough acceleration to cruise into the semifinals.
"I don't want to complain about the starting gun," Campbell-Brown said. "I just stay focused."
The Jamaican is using the indoor season to prepare for an attempt to win a third straight Olympic gold medal in the 200 meters. No woman has ever won three straight Olympic titles in athletics.
Besides Campbell-Brown, pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva has a similar shot at Olympic fame. The Russian will be going for a fourth indoor title on Sunday.
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