SOPOT, Poland (AP) — Defending champion Ashton Eaton won his first two events Friday to open a big lead in the heptathlon at the world indoor championships, then watched his wife Brianne Theisen Eaton fall back into third place in the pentathlon.
After a fast 60 meters to start the heptathlon, Eaton's long jump of 7.78 meters kept him in first place but left him behind his world-record pace from two years ago.
The American has 2,012 points, and a healthy lead over Oleksiy Kasyanov of Ukraine with 1,870. Damian Warner of Canada was third with 1,861.
Eaton still has the shot put and the high jump to go ahead of Saturday's three closing events.
At the same time, Eaton's wife was struggling in the high jump. The leader after the 60 hurdles, she only cleared 1.84 meters in the high jump, .04 off her personal best, to fall into second place.
The Canadian dropped into third after the shot put even though she set a personal best of 13.86 meters.
With two events to go on Saturday, Nadine Broersen of the Netherlands leads the competition with 3,035 points, followed by Sharon Day-Monroe of the United States with 2,919 and Theisen Eaton with 2,914.
Based on personal best performances in the long jump and 800, the title will likely go down to the closing race.
"Now I have to limit the damage," Broersen said.
In other events during the opening session of the three-day championship, former high jump champion Blanka Vlasic of Croatia scraped through as the last qualifier for Saturday's final. And Genzebe Dibaba showed off her seemingly limitless running potential by cruising into Sunday's final of the 3,000.
"I don't think I'll have a hard time taking gold," said the Ethiopian, who has already set two world records and a world best this season.
Even though the United States is again expected to dominate the medals table, it had to deal with a couple of setbacks during the opening session.
Nick Symmonds, who took silver at the outdoor world championships last year, finished fifth in his 800 heat and failed to advance. In the women's 800, 2012 junior world champion Ajee Wilson also finished fourth in her heat and was eliminated.
But in the shot put, defending champion Ryan Whiting advanced to the final later Friday along with main rival David Storl of Germany.
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