Ashton Eaton ties Olympic record, but it's Bolt's show again

United States' Kerron Clement is congratulated by United States' Ashton Eaton, right, after winning the gold medal in the men's 400-meter hurdles final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
United States' Tianna Bartoletta hugs her teammate Allyson Felix, right, as United States' Morolake Akinosun, left, looks on after a women's 4x100-meter relay after the U.S. team dropped the baton in the morning race during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
United States' Morolake Akinosun crosses the line to finish a women's 4x100-meter relay rerun after dropping the baton in the race in the morning during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
United States' Kerron Clement celebrates winning the gold medal after the men's 400-meter hurdles final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Allyson Felix, right, and English Gardner of the United States after dropping the baton in a women's 4x100-meter relay heat during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Canada's Damian Warner, left, and United States' Ashton Eaton compete in a men's decathlon 110-meter hurdles heat during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
United States' Ashton Eaton embraces his wife Canada's Brianne Theisen Eaton after winning the gold medal in men's decathlon during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
United States' Ryan Crouser celebrates after winning the gold medal in the men's shot put final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
United States' Allyson Felix leaves the track after dropping the baton in a women's 4x100-meter relay during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
United States' Ryan Crouser celebrates after winning the gold in the men's shot put during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Jamaica's Nickel Ashmeade, right, takes the baton from Asafa Powell as Germany's Robert Hering takes it from Sven Knipphals as they compete in the men's 400-meter hurdles final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
United States' Ashton Eaton embraces his wife Canada's Brianne Theisen Eaton after winning the gold medal in men's decathlon during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
South Africa's Caster Semenya prepares to compete in a women's 800-meter semifinal during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
United States' Tianna Bartoletta runs the lead leg of a women's 4x100-meter relay rerun after dropping the baton in the race in the morning during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
United States' Ashton Eaton celebrates winning the gold medal in the men's decathlon during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
United States' Ryan Crouser celebrates after setting a new Olympic record in the men's shot put final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
United States' Ashton Eaton smiles after an attempt in the javelin throw of the decathlon during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
United States' Ashton Eaton celebrates after making a clearance in men's decathlon pole vault during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
United States' Kerron Clement celebrates winning the men's 400-meter hurdles final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Usain Bolt from Jamaica celebrates winning the gold medal in the men's 200-meter final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
United States' Ashton Eaton crosses the line of the 1500-meter run to win the gold medal in the decathlon during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
United States' Morolake Akinosun runs the last leg in a women's 4x100-meter relay rerun after dropping the baton in the race in the morning during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Usain Bolt from Jamaica celebrates winning the gold medal in the men's 200-meter final ahead during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

RIO DE JANEIRO — Ashton Eaton retained his title as the best all-around athlete in the world by tying the decathlon Olympic record and, within minutes, had stepped back for track and field's ultimate superstar to take center stage again.

What more could the now two-time Olympic champion Eaton do Thursday night to get just a little sliver of the limelight that beams down so brightly on Usain Bolt?

Not much.

"I had the pleasure of being in the same era as Usain Bolt," Eaton said. "I mean, the guy's last name is Bolt, he's the fastest man ever, you can't write a story like that."

You can try.

For his own tale, Eaton made it back-to-back Olympic and world titles in the decathlon, an event the American has ruled since he rebounded from silver at the worlds in 2011 to claim the next four major gold medals available. From throwing, to jumping, to running, Eaton can do it all.

But then Bolt — a Jamaican who just deals in speed — roared around the bend at the Olympic Stadium to win the 200 meters in 19.78 seconds, completing act two of his three-part quest for gold and history in Rio.

Maybe there was some comfort for Eaton — and loads of other athletes looking to be the one to shine — with Bolt's suggestion afterward that he's nearly done.

"On the straight, my body didn't respond. I'm getting old," said Bolt, who was trying to break his own world record of 19.19.

Friday's 4x100-meter relay final is all that's left now between Bolt and an historic three golds at three straight Olympics. Concentrating on not messing that up for Bolt, a Jamaica team led by Asafa Powell got into the final in a pretty important moment for the big man's legacy. They only finished second in their heat behind Japan, but Jamaica's in.

"There was some pressure to make it to the finals," Powell said, relieved he didn't have to deliver any bad news as Bolt prepared for the 200 final.

Wednesday produced an "awesome hour" for the U.S. track team, according to Tianna Bartoletta. By Thursday night, that had evolved into a pretty great 24 hours.

Alongside Eaton's triumph, Ryan Crouser led an American one-two in the shot put, also setting a new Olympic record of 22.52 meters to win his first major title from world champion Joe Kovacs.

Dalilah Muhammad kept the U.S. total ticking on with gold in the women's 400-meter hurdles and Ashley Spencer added a bronze, with another American 1-2 only just thwarted by Denmark's Sara Slott Petersen. Kerron Clement also won his first individual Olympic gold in the 400-meter hurdles.

"We are making history out here," Muhammad said of the U.S. team's gold rush.

The crowd at a near-full Olympic Stadium was constantly reminded of that with a series of medal ceremonies through the day, most of them starting with: "O say can you see..."

With three days remaining, the United States was up to 25 medals in track and field, nine of them gold. The U.S. won 29 medals, including nine golds, in London.

For a few short moments, the U.S. women's 4x100 relay team was a little like Bolt: They were the only ones everyone was looking at.

Leading off, Bartoletta nestled into the starting blocks in lane 2 for the team's re-run — all on their own and against the clock only — after they fumbled the baton in their original qualifier. The second chance came after a U.S. protest. With just that clock and the crowd for company, the Americans took the baton around in 41.77 seconds to reach the final.

"Our coach said before we went out there, 'It's just like practice, just the whole world will be watching," said English Gardner, who ran the third leg.

Eaton finished with 8,893 points, digging deep through the final lap of the last event, the 1,500 meters, to cross the line third, incredibly matching exactly the Olympic record after 10 events over two days.

"How can't there be one stinking point in there somewhere?" Eaton said.

Eaton had briefly darted away from the decathlon to congratulate Clement as his teammate knelt exhausted in the midday sun after winning the hurdles, an indicator of the feel-good surging through the U.S. track team right now.

Croatia's Sara Kolak won the women's javelin, another first-time Olympic champion like Crouser.

And South Africa's Caster Semenya, the outright favorite for the women's 800-meter title, qualified fastest for the final as she breezed to victory in her semifinal heat, unchallenged, in 1 minute 58.15 seconds.

Semenya, another compelling story at these games but for different reasons to Bolt, will run in the 800 final on Saturday.

By then, Bolt will be done at the Olympics forever.

"I've worked all my career, all my life, for this moment," Bolt said. "So hopefully people can read about me as the greatest."

___

AP Sports Writer Raf Casert contributed to this report.

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