10 Things You Didn’t Know About Olympic Decathlete Ashton Eaton
From Bob Mathias to Bruce Jenner and Dan O’Brien to Bryan Clay, American decathletes have established a tradition of athletic excellence in the Olympic event that many experts feel produces the greatest all-around athlete in the world. In 2012, US Olympian Ashton Eaton will look to continue the trend of gold medal American decathletes as he competes with the world’s best at the Summer Olympics in London. Eaton, 24, already owns the world record in both the decathlon and heptathlon events and is the favorite to win Olympic gold.
Here are 10 things you may not have known about this incredible athlete:
Fast Facts About Ashton Eaton
Ashton Eaton was born in Portland, Oregon on January 21, 1988 to Roslyn Eaton and Terrance Wilson. Eaton’s maternal grandfather, Jim Eaton, was a football player at Michigan State University.
A peerless athlete, Eaton is six feet and one inch tall and weighs 185 pounds. The London Games are his first Olympics, but he did claim the silver medal at the World Championships in Dageu, South Korea in 2001 and brought home the gold in the heptathlon at the Istanbul indoor meet earlier this year.
He May Already Be The World’s Greatest Athlete
Not to slight US athlete Bryan Clay, the reigning Olympic decathlon champ who failed to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics, but Eaton may have claimed the title of world’s greatest athlete by scoring a world record of 9,039 points at the 2012 US Olympic Track & Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon in June.
The massive point total allowed Eaton to become just the second man to surpass the 9,000-point mark, joining Czechoslvakia’s Roman Sebrle. Eaton also owns the world record in the heptathlon, a mark which he has set three times.
He Wanted to be A Ninja Turtle
Just two years after Ashton was born, Roslyn Eaton and Terrance Wilson separated. Through the years, Roslyn nurtured her son’s love of sports and competition. Roslyn says Ashton had a non-sports hero when he was five years old.
“He wanted to be Donatello — he wanted to be a Ninja Turtle, the purple one,” she said.
Nearly two decades later, Eaton and his mom are still incredibly close. He calls her immediately after every meet on the rare occasion that she can’t attend the meet to watch Ashton perform.
He Was Raised Near Tracktown, USA
Eaton’s interest in the Ninja Turtles led him to pursue taekwondo; he eventually attained a black belt. Eaton also participated in football, basketball, running, soccer and wrestling. Regardless of the sport, Eaton was competitive and excelled athletically.
Eventually, Roslyn moved Ashton to Bend, Oregon, which is not far from the hub of US Track & Field activity in Eugene, also known as Tracktown, USA. He eventually enrolled at the University of Oregon in Eugene, where his natural abilities were cultivated by the nation’s best track coaches.
He Had Not Heard of the Decathlon Before 2006
Though Eaton won Oregon state championships in the 400 meters and the long jump in high school, he was not a prized recruit. As Eaton was choosing a college in the spring of 2006, high school coach Tate Metcalf suggested he choose a school which had a strong tradition in the decathlon, an event Eaton had not heard of prior to his senior year.
At Oregon, former US decathlete Dan Steele and Henry Marra helped shape Eaton into the gold medal-contending decathlete that he is today. Eaton developed a mastery of the 10 events that make up the decathlon: 100 meters, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 meters, 110 meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw, 1500 meters.
He Quacks Like A Duck
While competing for the University of Oregon Ducks, Eaton became a five-time NCAA champion, winning the Bowerman Award in 2010 as the best student-athlete in American collegiate track.
In winning the NCAA heptathlon in 2010, Eaton broke the world record of former Olympic decathlon champion Dan O’Brien. Eaton also graduated from Oregon in 2010.
Bill Cosby Throws the Javelin Better Than He Does
Once an athlete rises to an elite level, they are often afforded the opportunity to meet celebrities, if they haven’t already become one. A few weeks before the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Eaton was interviewed by comedian and television icon Bill Cosby, who was also an athlete in college.
During the humorous conversation with Cosby, Eaton revealed that the javelin was not his strongest event, describing his ability as ‘terrible.’ Cosby claimed to have thrown further than Eaton does while he was attending Temple University.
He Is A Nike Athlete
Nike has an established relationship with the Oregon Track Club, which has General, Elite and Masters level athletes, who are some of the country’s best performers. As an Elite level performer for the Oregon Track Club, Eaton is a Nike athlete. If he can win the gold medal in London, Eaton will reap the benefits of countless other sponsorships and endorsement opportunities.
He Likes Junk Food and Video Games
For a world class athlete, Eaton readily makes known his love of certain foods and hobbies that are more often equated to a more sedentary lifestyle. He espouses his love for macaroni and cheese, Fettucini Alfredo, as well as expressing a definite affinity for video games and tech gadgets. Eaton mentions ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Halo’ as his favorite video games.
He Is Engaged to Another Olympian
Eaton is engaged to Canadian Olympian Brianne Theisen, who won consecutive NCAA heptathlon titles for Oregon in 2009 and 2010. Eaton met Theisen while the athletes were enrolled at Oregon. Theisen also competes in the pentathlon and the 4×400 meter relay.