If they handed out a medal for Most Overexposed Olympic Team Member, Trey Hardee would be trading elbows with Lolo Jones in the sprint for gold. The 28-year-old two-time defending world champion in the decathlon seemed to be on the cover of a different magazine every week leading up to London – in most cases, wearing no shirt. "I bet I only have my shirt off for one shot," Hardee says between workouts in his hometown of Austin. "But that's the one shot that makes it in." On the minus side, he says, it's getting a little embarrassing. On the plus side, "In 20 years, I'll have proof that one day I was in shape."
Hardee is the latest in a long string of great American decathletes, including the likes of Bruce Jenner, who won gold in 1976 before going on to be a successful stepfather to an army of Kardashians. Hardee isn't sure why Americans are so good at the peculiar discipline that requires you to run fast, jump high and throw various objects far. "It's the competitive nature of Americans – that Cold War, Rocky mentality that America is better than anyone."
The sum total of being the best at 10 sports carried out over two grueling days means that if Hardee wins the gold, he will be branded "the best athlete on Earth." The mellow Texan tries to downplay the hype: "It's gonna be another track meet. The same decathlon I've been doing for 10 years. The only difference is, more people watch."