London 2017 | Stage all set for Hardee at Worlds
Trey Hardee wants to set the record straight: No, he's not retired. Never has been. The thought really never crossed his mind.
The two-time world champion decathlete understands why everyone may have jumped to that conclusion. He's 33, has been sidelined by an assortment of injuries and did some broadcasting work for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
On top of that, his Wikipedia page actually listed him as retired.
"I still really love what I do," he said.
With world-record holder and two-time Olympic gold medallist Ashton Eaton surprisingly announcing his retirement in January, the stage now belongs to the 'other' American who, in virtually any other era, wouldn't have been relegated to such status. Once the top rival of Eaton, Hardee could take his spot atop the medal stand at the world championships in London.
"I consider myself the bread in the Ashton sandwich," Hardee joked about being around before Eaton's arrival and still around now. "When we were (competing), we were always like, 'Let's finish 1-2.' Neither of us cared. We were like, 'Let's dominate this event and represent the United States, make sure we show what the American decathlon stands for.'"
For years, it was the Eaton and Hardee Show in a 10-event competition spread over two days. At the 2012 London Games, Eaton took gold while Hardee grabbed silver. That despite Hardee having surgery on his throwing elbow a few months before the Olympics.
Another showdown loomed in Brazil.
But Hardee was hobbled heading into the Olympic Trials and withdrew from the competition after aggravating his hamstring.
A healthy Hardee turned in quite a performance at the U.S. championships in June, when he won the decathlon with 8,225 points. He held off the next wave of American decathletes eager to take over such as 24-year-old Zach Ziemek and Devon Williams. Both will accompany Hardee to London.
"It's a nice time to be a decathlete in the U.S.," Hardee said.
Hardee is part of a distinguished list, joining Eaton (2013, 2015), Dan O'Brien (1991, 1993, 1995), Tom Pappas (2003) and Bryan Clay (2005) as the only Americans to win the world decathlon title. Hardee captured his titles in 2009 and '11.
"Whatever my legacy is, it's not for me to determine," said Hardee, who trains in Austin, Texas. "I was just led down the right path. All I needed to do was put in the work."