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Eaton successfully defends Olympic decathlon title

American also reigning world champion in event

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(Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

American Ashton Eaton successfully defended his Olympic decathlon title on Thursday, becoming the event's first repeat champ since 1984.

Eaton, a 28-year-old Oregon native, beat out France's Kevin Mayer in the 1,500-meter race, the final event in the two-day, 10-event competition, to also just edge Mayer in the overall competition by 8,893 to 8,834 points.

Competitors receive points for each event depending on their performance, which are then combined into a total score for the event.

Mayer won silver and Canada's Damian Warner won bronze with 8,666 points.

The other two Americans in the event, Zach Ziemek and Jeremy Taiwo, finished seventh and 11th, respectively, out of the 25 competitors who finished the event.

Eaton, who is also the two-time reigning world champion in the event, was leading the competition at the end of Wednesday's events and maintained that lead throughout Thursday with Mayer nipping at his heels.

He led off the first day with a second-place finish in the 100-meter race and then won the long jump. After ranking 10th in the shot put and 14th in the high jump, he wrapped up his busy day by winning the 400-meter race.

On Thursday, he was second in 110-meter hurdles, eighth in discus, third in pole vault and 18th in javelin before finishing his two days with the first-place finish in the 1500m. Mayer needed to beat Eaton by seven seconds in the 1500m to claim gold, but Eaton easily pulled away down the stretch of that race.

By defending his 2012 gold, Eaton also made it three in a row for the U.S., with Bryan Clay winning the event at the 2008 Beijing Games.

America has a long history of doing well in the Olympic event, winning 13 golds over 22 Olympic Games going into Rio. That record includes six straight wins between 1932 and 1960 and historic performances from names such as Jim Thorpe, Bruce Jenner and Dan O'Brien.