American decathlete Ashton Eaton was born in Portland, Oregon, on January 21, 1988. Excelling at track and field at a young age, Eaton began professionally competing in the decathlon and heptathlon in 2008. At the NCAA National Championships that year, as well as in 2009 and 2010, he placed first in the decathlon, with respective scores of 8,055, 8,241 and 8,457. He also won the heptathlon at the NCAA Championships in 2009 and 2010. Eaton made it to the U.S. Olympic trials in 2008, but failed to make it to the Games after finishing fifth. He finally made his Olympic debut in 2012, at the Summer Games in London—the youngest member of the U.S. decathlon team that year, at age 24—and took home the gold medal. He retained his title, winning Olympic gold in the decathlon at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio.
Track and Field Star
Ashton James Eaton was born in Portland, Oregon, on January 21, 1988, and began excelling at track and field at a young age. His grandfather, James Eaton, was a halfback for Michigan State University.
In 2008, Eaton began professionally competing in the heptathlon, an event consisting of 60-meter and 1,000-meter races; the long jump and high jump; shot put; pole vault; and the 60-meter hurdles. He also began competing in the decathlon, which includes 10 grueling events: 100-meter, 400-meter and 1500-meter races; the long jump and high jump; the javelin and discus throw; shot put; pole vault; and 110-meter hurdles.
At the NCAA National Championships in 2008, as well as in 2009 and 2010, Eaton placed first in the decathlon, with respective scores of 8,055, 8,241 and 8,457. He also won the heptathlon at the NCAA Championships in 2009 and 2010. Eaton made it to the U.S. Olympic trials in 2008, but failed to make it to the Games after finishing fifth, with a score of 8,122.
By 2010, Eaton had become a three-time Pac-10 champion (winning in 2008, 2009 and 2010), and had been named both "Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year" and "Indoor Field Athlete of the Year" by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (both in 2010). He had also received the prestigious collegiate Bowerman Award, and had become a world indoor heptathlon record holder, with a top score of 6,645.
Eaton became a World Championship outdoor silver medalist, in 2011, and the following year, won the indoor gold medal at the World Championships. He also placed first in the decathlon at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in 2011, with a score of 8,729; and won there again in 2012, with a world record-breaking score of 9,039. Additionally, in 2012, he was named the U.S. indoor long jump champion. He’s continued to build his successes, adding World Championship titles for decathlon in 2013 and 2015 (where he topped his own world record with a 9045-point score), and for heptathlon in 2014 and 2016.
After a disappointing performance at the Olympic trials in 2008, Eaton finally made his Olympic debut in 2012, at the Summer Games in London. The youngest member of the U.S. decathlon team, at age 24, Eaton surprised decathlon fans around the world when he won the event, taking home the gold medal.
The Olympic champion retained his title as "World's Greatest Athlete" at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, winning gold in the two-day, 10-event decathlon. His score of 8,893 points tied the Olympic record, and he joined U.S. Olympian Bob Mathias (in 1948 and 1952) and Daley Thompson of Great Britain (in 1980 and 1984) as the only men to have won two golds in the event.
“The decathlon is exclusive company,” Eaton said in interview with USA Today. “I’m just happy to be part of the family, the decathlon family. To be with the other two-time gold medalists is great, but it’s great to just be a decathlete.”
Ashton Eaton married Brianne Theisen, a Canadian heptathlete, in 2013. The couple met while attending the University of Oregon. Theisen-Eaton won bronze in the heptathlon at the 2016 Olympics.
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