March 19, 2016 / 5:33 AM / 2 years ago

Bromell fires Rio warning with world sprint gold

Trayvon Bromell of the U.S. celebrates with an American flag after winning the gold medal in the men's 60 meters at the IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships in Portland, Oregon March 18, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) - American Trayvon Bromell blazed to gold in the men’s 60 meters at the world indoor athletics championships on Friday, firing a warning to Usain Bolt and other Olympic challengers that he will be a real threat at the Rio Games.

With most of sprinting’s biggest names, including double Olympic champion Bolt and Americans Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay, deciding to bypass the worlds the 20-year-old Bromell clocked a winning time of 6.47 seconds ahead of Jamaican Asafa Powell.

Bromell was reluctant to cast himself as the next American sprint king but clearly he will not be overawed on the biggest stage in Rio.

“I have always had confidence,” said Bromell, who announced his arrival on the sprint scene last year tying for the 100m bronze at the outdoor worlds in Beijing.

”At the end of the day if you cut our skin, we all bleed red. Nobody is Superman, nobody is superhuman.

“At the end of the day anybody can win.”

Bromell’s victory provided a thrilling nightcap to Day Two of the four-day meeting but it was track and field’s golden couple, local boy Ashton Eaton and his Canadian wife Brianne Theisen-Eaton, who were in the spotlight.

The pair, who could become the first married couple to win multi-event golds at the same world championships, spent much of Friday competing at opposite sides of the arena, cheering each other on and comparing notes between events.

Theisen-Eaton, silver medalist at the 2014 worlds, took gold in the pentathlon with a winning total of 4,881 points, 34 ahead of Ukraine’s Anastasiya Mokhnyuk.

She opened with a personal best of 8.04 seconds in the hurdles and led after the high jump but going into the final event, the 800m, she found herself trailing by 150 points after the Ukrainian recorded personal bests in four straight events.

However, with her husband urging her on trackside, Theisen-Eaton came home in a time of 2 minutes, 9.99 seconds, crossing 13 seconds clear of Mokhnyuk to finally take gold after three consecutive world championship silvers.

”With 150 meters left I heard Ashton and the other heptathletes say ‘You can win, you can win,'“ said Theisen-Eaton. ”I had no idea where anybody else was.

“I was delirious. I was looking at the clock but I couldn’t figure out in my mind ... it was all a blur.”

On Saturday, her husband will get the chance to win gold of his own when he completes the final three events of the heptathlon. Eaton holds a 63 point lead and is within striking distance of his own world record.

With the hugely popular ‘March Madness’ college basketball tournament in full swing, and Oregon State and the University of Oregon in action, it was another challenging day for organizers.

Close to half the seats in the 7,000 seat venue were empty in the morning session, though a better crowd turned out for the evening session.

Brittney Reese, the 2012 Olympic long jump champion, claimed a sixth world title with a leap of 7.22 while Nia Ali led a one-two U.S. finish in the 60m hurdles, defending her title by 1/100th of a second ahead of compatriot Brianna Rollins.

New Zealand’s Tom Walsh, shot put bronze medalist at the 2014 indoor worlds, won gold on Friday with a heave of 21.78m.

Additional reporting Gene Cherry; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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