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Why is this US athlete wearing a superhero mask at the World Championships?

Olympian Ashton Eaton is feeling the benefits of a prototype made by Nike.

China Athletics Worlds Eaton in the mask alongside US team-mate Zach Ziemek as they wait to compete in the high jump. Source: Lee Jin-man

THOSE WATCHING THE decathlon at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing today could be forgiven for thinking there was a comic book hero competing.

World record holder Ashton Eaton, along with US team-mate Jeremy Taiwo, was pictured wearing material helmets with attached visors between events at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing.

China Athletics Worlds Eaton, right, and compatriot Jeremy Taiwo. Source: Andy Wong

The mask is the prototype of a new cooling mask by Nike, which aims to speed up the recovery time.

“A perfect scenario would be to feel like you’ve just started on every event,” Eaton explained recently. The more you do, the more attrition you experience. Rather than realising immediate physiological gain, the challenge is more about reducing the mental attrition from the two days to maximise each event.

“After asking questions about current recovery techniques, the conversation prompted me to ask myself: Why does it feel good, after running, to pour a bottle of water over your head? I don’t know the physiological answer, but the fact that it does feel better makes me perform better. ”

Nike Cooling Mask Source: Nike.com

It’s certainly not doing him any harm as Eaton set a world record in the 400m and leads the decathlon through five events.

China Athletics Worlds Eaton crossing the line. Source: Mark Schiefelbein

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Ben Blake

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