By Gene Cherry
LONDON, July 30 (Reuters) - An aching Ashton Eaton felt like he had fallen out of a tree the day after setting the decathlon world record at the U.S. trials last month.
His body was that beat up from the physically demanding 10-event two-day competition.
Now comes a new challenge, the London Olympics where the 24-year-old Oregon native is hot favourite for gold in his first trip to the Games.
His record-breaking 9,039 points in wet and cold conditions at the U.S. trials earned him the honour.
But nothing will be taken for granted, Eaton told reporters after a U.S. news conference on Monday.
"With multi-events there are a lot of things that can go wrong," he said. "I don't care if I had scored 11,000 points I would never feel I had it in the bag."
His quest for gold supercedes any thoughts of another record or even surpassing 9,000 points again, a mark only former Czech world record holder Roman Sebrle had previously achieved.
"Getting a PB (personal best), I am definitely not going to try for that," Eaton said. "I think it is unrealistic to think I am going to get another world record, especially at the Olympic Games."
Three times a world indoor heptathlon record-breaker, Eaton has always appeared on course to smash the decathlon mark although many, including himself, thought it would be a few years off.
Competing before a wildly cheering home crowd and a number of former Olympic champions, Eaton accomplished the longtime goal last month in Eugene, Oregon.
"At first I was happy," Eaton said on Monday. "Then I kind of got sad because I think Roman is really a great guy, and he had a really good record and he has done a lot for our event and our sport.
"So it almost felt I took something from him, but at the same time, I worked really hard, so it was kind of bittersweet for me."
A solid score is his goal for London, he said, "but you are never going to be perfect in the decathlon".
"The eternal struggle of the multi-events is what attracts most athletes to it.
"You are always striving for 10 perfect events, but it never happens."
The throwing events are his biggest weakness, but improvement is coming, he said.
"He is so good at so many things," British two-time Olympic champion Daley Thompson told Reuters.
"He has got a lot that he can still improve on, and I am looking forward to seeing his results over the next five or 10 years."
Thompson does not rate Eaton as the world greatest decathlete yet.
"He is the highest scoring one," the former world record holder said.
"Milt Campbell, Rafter Johnson, Bob Mathias. Those guys are the guys I looked up to. To me those guys are gods."
(Editing by Justin Palmer)
Jake Dalton - Men's Gymnastics
Dalton, 20, is a student at the University of Oklahoma and a member of the men's U.S. gymnastics team. In 2011 he won the <a href="http://espn.go.com/olympics/summer/2012/gymnastics/story/_/id/8116953/2012-summer-olympics-jake-dalton-makes-case-us-team" target="_hplink">NCAA titles</a> in floor and vault.
Sam Mikulak - Men's Gymnastics
Mikulak, 19, just finished his sophomore year at University of Michigan, and will be the<a href="http://www.freep.com/article/20120701/SPORTS17/120701018/Sam-Mikulak-becomes-Michigan-s-first-U-S-Olympian-in-men-s-gymnastics" target="_hplink"> first student</a> from his university to represent the U.S. Men's Gymnastics in the olympics. During the olympic trials he competed with an <a href="http://mom.me/mind-body/2824-team-usas-youngest-olympians/item/10345-sam-mikulak-getty-147482272/" target="_hplink">injured ankle</a>.
Betsy Hassett - Women's Soccer
This 21 year-old UC Berkeley student will play for her native New Zealand <a href="http://www.calbears.com/sports/w-soccer/mtt/hassett_betsy00.html" target="_hplink">soccer team</a> as a midfielder. Photo Credit: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Betsy_Hassett.jpg" target="_hplink">Camw</a>
Kara Kohler - Women's Rowing
Kohler, 21, <a href="http://www.claytonpioneer.com/news/details.cfm?News_ID=749" target="_hplink">switched from swimming to rowing</a> during her freshman year at UC Berkeley. She will row in the women's quadruple sculls and is the youngest rower in the London olympics. Correction: An earlier version of this slide said that Kohler was the youngest member of the rowing team. Patricia Obee is younger than Kohler by nine months.
Erik Kynard - Track & Field
This 21 year-old <a href="http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/sports/sports_blogs_local/high-jumper-erik-kynard-jr-stronger-going-into-london-games" target="_hplink">high jumper</a> is a junior at Kansas State University. He finished second in the olympic trials, clearing a height of 7 feet 5 3/4 inches.
Emma Coburn - Track & Field
Coburn, 21, is a senior at <a href="http://www.cubuffs.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=600&ATCLID=3668721" target="_hplink">University of Colorado, Boulder</a>. She is ranked as the <a href="http://www.flotrack.org/coverage/248568-2012-Prefontaine-Classic-Eugene-Diamond-League/video/638799-Emma-Coburn-huge-PR-of-925-in-first-steeple-of-season-at-2012-Pre-Classic" target="_hplink">fourth-fastest American </a>ever in steeplechase.
Tony McQuay - Track & Field
This sprinter from the University of Florida qualified for the olympics after earning a silver medal in in the men's<a href="http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gators/content/gator-sprinter-tony-mcquay-headed-london-us-olympic-team" target="_hplink"> 400 meters</a>. The <a href="http://www.teamusa.org/For-the-Media/Olympic-Games/2012/Media-Guide/Online.aspx" target="_hplink">22 year-old</a> is a native of Florida.
Trevor Barron - Track & Field
19 year-old Barron will be the<a href="http://pittsburgh.sbnation.com/2012/7/24/3180973/team-usa-track-and-field-2012-olympics" target="_hplink"> youngest member</a> of the U.S. track & field team to compete in the 20 kilometer race walk. In September he will start his sophomore year at <a href="http://www.coloradocollege.edu/newsevents/newsroom/cc-s-barron-walks-into-record-books" target="_hplink">Colorado College</a>.
Katie and Julia Reinprecht - Field Hockey
These Princeton athletes will be playing in the olympics alongside each other as sisters. <a href="http://www.teamusa.org/Athletes/RE/Julia-Reinprecht.aspx" target="_hplink"> Julia,</a> the youngest member on the team, plays defense while <a href="http://www.teamusa.org/Athletes/RE/Katie-Reinprecht.aspx" target="_hplink">Katie </a>is a midfielder.
Sarah Scherer - Shooting
The 21 year-old student from Texas Christian University will compete in the women's <a href="http://www.nbcolympics.com/athletes/athlete=sarah-scherer/index.html" target="_hplink">10m air rifle</a> event. Scherer's interest in the sport began when she was<a href="http://www.9news.com/news/article/275446/345/Sarah-Scherer-on-target-for-Olympic-shooting-competition" target="_hplink"> nine years old</a> and started shooting BB guns with her brother.
Aleksa Saponjic - Men's Water Polo
Serbian born Saponjic will represent his home country in the London Olympics. He was a <a href="http://www.hercampus.com/school/berkeley/mr-campus-freshman-aleksa-saponjic" target="_hplink">freshman</a> at UC Berkeley this past year.
David Boudia - Diving
23 year-old Boudia, a Purdue student, also competed in the 2008 Beijing olympics. He is expected <a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/olympics/2012/writers/nick_zaccardi/06/25/2012-olympic-diving-trials-wrap/index.html" target="_hplink">to medal</a> in London.
Tom Daley - Diving
Though he doesn't attend an American university, it is impossible to exclude British diving sensation Tom Daley from this collegiate list. Daley, 18, plans to earn a Spanish degree from <a href="http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2012-07-23/tom-daley-im-diving-for-dad" target="_hplink">Open University</a>, a distance learning U.K research university.
Andrew Gemmell - Men's Swimming
This <a href="http://www.georgiadogs.com/sports/c-swim/mtt/gemmell_andrew00.html" target="_hplink">University of Georgia </a>student<a href="http://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/lane9/news/USA/31089.asp" target="_hplink"> cleared 15:00</a> in the men's 1500 free olympic trails, which broke his personal record. With this new time of 14:57.29, he is fifth in world rankings.
Marcin Tarczynski - Men's Swimming
This <a href="http://www.calbears.com/sports/m-swim/mtt/tarczynski_marcin00.html" target="_hplink">UC Berkeley </a>sophomore will compete for his home country of Poland.
Elizabeth Beisel - Women's Swimming
Biesel, who majors in Communications at University of Florida, just missed medaling in the <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/elizabeth-beisel-relied-maturity-qualify-2012-olympic-team-190900576--oly.html" target="_hplink">2008 Beijing olympics</a> when she was only 15 years-old. Now, at the age of 19, she will represent America again.
Caitlin Leverenz - Women's Swimming
After narrowly <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/21/olympic-swimming-caitlin-leverenz-us-swim-london_n_1691323.html" target="_hplink">missing the 2008 U.S. olympic team</a>, this 21 year-old UC Berkeley swimmer will be heading to London. She swims <a href="http://www.calbears.com/sports/w-swim/mtt/leverenz_caitlin00.html" target="_hplink">breastroke and IM</a>.
Breeja Larson - Women's Swimming
This 20 year-old set <a href="http://www.aggieathletics.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27300&ATCLID=205236258" target="_hplink">four records</a> during her freshman year at Texas A&M. Having now just finished her sophomore year, she will enter the 2012 olympics swimming in the <a href="http://www.usatodayeducate.com/staging/index.php/sports/10-college-olympians-you-should-know" target="_hplink">100-meter breaststroke</a>.
Stephanie Au - Women's Swimming
Au, 20, attends UC Berkeley and will be swimming for her home country Hong Kong. She already has <a href="http://www.calbears.com/sports/w-swim/mtt/au_stephanie00.html" target="_hplink">olympic experience</a>, competing with the team in 2008 at the Beijing olympics.
Mariya Koroleva - Synchronized Swimming
Koroleva, who is taking a year off from <a href="http://www.sacbee.com/2012/07/22/4650090/synchronized-swimmers-koroleva.html" target="_hplink">Stanford University</a> to train, was born in Russia but will be part of the 2012 U.S. synchro team. She has distinguished herself with her duet partner Mary Killman.
Miles Chamley-Watson - Fencing
The 22 year-old from <a href="http://www.gopsusports.com/sports/m-fenc/mtt/chamleywatson_miles00.html" target="_hplink">Penn State</a> qualified for the third spot on the U.S. Men's Foil team. He originates from Philadelphia, and plans on majoring in business and finance.