Olympic champion Ashton Eaton broke his own decathlon world record by six points to defend his crown with a 9,045 point total at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.
Eaton, 27, set his previous world record at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. with a 9,039 point total to break Roman Sebrle's 11-year-old record by 13 points. Eaton won gold in London less than eight weeks later with an 8,869 point total.
“I think the point of life is just trying to improve,” Eaton said. "Do something. Get inspired to do something and then try to do better."
Eaton is the first man to win back-to-back world championship titles since compatriot Trey Hardee won in 2009 and '11. Eaton won the 2013 world championships with an 8,809 point performance to improve upon his silver medal from '11.
The decathlon consists of 10 events over two days: the 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400-meter run on the first day, and 110-meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and 1,500-meter run on the second.
On the first day of competition, Eaton raised eyebrows to confirm a world-record attempt by setting a decathlon world championship best by clocking a 10.23 in the 100-meter dash and setting a decathlon world record with his 45.00-second performance in the 400-meter run.
Watch Eaton’s 400-meter decathlon world record below:
When he was not running, jumping or throwing, Eaton was seen around the Bird’s Nest wearing a specially designed cooling hood for optimal recovery in the Beijing humidity.
He finished the first day with 4,703 points and a 173-point lead over Damian Warner of Canada.
Eaton went into the final event on Saturday night needing to run 4:18.25 to set a new world record. He ran 4:17.52 and collapsed to the ground before celebrating his new accomplishment.
When Eaton first set the world record, he joined an elite club that includes Caitlyn Jenner, Dan O'Brien and Rafer Johnson as American decathletes who have held the world record.
“I was just thinking about sitting on the couch when I was little watching somebody like Michael Johnson or Carl Lewis jump and run – that's the reason why I'm here today,” Eaton said. “I thought maybe there's a kid on a couch somewhere and if I break this world record, they may be inspired to try and do something or get excited, so yeah I did it for them."
Americans have won six of the last seven gold medals in the decathlon at world championships and have won nine titles since the first multi-event contest at the 1983 championship in Helsinki.
Watch Eaton's 1,500-meter finish below:
Since 2012, Eaton has cleared 5.40 meters in the pole vault, tossed 15.40 meters in the shot put and recorded a 66.64-meter throw in the javelin for personal bests.
Eaton’s wife, Brianne Theisen-Eaton, won a silver medal in the women’s heptathlon on Aug. 23.
The couple will go after gold medals at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where Ashton could become the first Olympic decathlon champion to repeat since Great Britain’s Daley Thompson won gold at the 1980 and '84 Summer Games.
Eaton will have to wait until 2017 to try and become just the third man in history after USA’s Dan O’Brien (1991, '93 and '95) and the Czech Republic’s Tomáš Dvořák (1997, '99 and 2001) to win three world championship titles.
Before the Summer Olympics, Eaton may also compete at the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Track and Field Championships, held next March in Portland, to try and defend his heptathlon title from the '13 world indoor championships.
Below are Ashton Eaton’s marks en route to his world championship title:
100-meter dash: 10.23 seconds, 1st (decathlon world-championship record)—1040 points
Long jump: 7.88 meters, 1st—1030 points
Shot put: 14.52 meters, 9th—760 points
High jump: 2.01 meters, 11th—813 points
400-meter run: 45.00 seconds, 1st (decathlon world record)—1060 points
110-meter hurdles: 13.69 seconds, 2nd—1015 points
Discus throw: 43.43 meters, 11th—733 points
Pole vault: 5.20 meters, 5th place—972 points
Javelin throw: 63.63 meters, 4th place—793 points
1,500-meter run: 4:17.52, 2nd place—829 points