2011 Guest Athlete
Decathlon. It’s an event synonymous for producing some of the USA‘s biggest household names… Names such as Bruce Jenner and Dan O’Brien, but in recent years the decathlon was in danger of fading into the background. However, as the 2012 London Olympic Games near, the success and story-lines have returned with Team USA featuring perhaps its best depth ever in the decathlon. The three are so strong, some are already considering the prospect of a 1-2-3 American finish in London.
The youngest of the three, Ashton Eaton had never even heard of the 2 day, 10-event competition until late in his career at Mountain View High School, but all the signs of a champion decathlete in the making where evident when Eaton became state champion in the 400m and long-jump and was 2nd in the 200m. His talents did not escape the attention of a number of colleges, all of them seeing his potential and range of speed, power and endurance. That coupled with his 6’1’ 185 lb frame and his fierce determination as a competitor made, him the perfect package for an event considered the most grueling of all athletic endeavors.
Eaton’s first decathlon was at Arizona during his freshman year at the University of Oregon and little more than 3 years later, he had 5 NCAA Championship titles (3 in Decathlon, 2 in Heptathlon) and 5 Pac-10 titles (3 in decathlon, 110m hurdles, long-jump). But these weren’t even his greatest achievements. In 2009 while still a student at Oregon, Eaton finished 2nd to Trey Hardee at the USA national track & field championships and went on to represent the US at the World Championships in Berlin later that year. In 2010, Eaton began the year by breaking the world record in the heptathlon at the NCAA Indoor Championships, scoring 6,499 points. The record, previously held by the legendary Dan O’Brien had stood at 6,476 since 1993. In his final appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in June of that year, Eaton became the first to win 3 consecutive NCAA decathlon titles. His personal-best score of 8,457 points set an NCAA meet, the Pac-10 and the University of Oregon records. Closing out the year Eaton was named the 2010 Bowerman award winner, the Heisman for collegiate track & field, and was described as “the most exciting multi event athlete of his generation”.
Eaton’s first year as a professional could not have gotten off to a better start. At the invitation of the Millrose Games organizers, the three American decathlete stars, Aston Eaton (World Record holder in the heptathlon), Trey Hardee (2009 World Champion) and Bray Clay ( 2008 Olympic Champion) went head-to-head in a Multi-Event Challenge over 3 events, the 60m hurdles, the high jump and the shot-put. Winning 2 of the 3 events and registering 2 new Personal Records in the shot-put and hurdles, Eaton was the clear winner, reinforcing the threat he proposes to his fellow competitors in the run up to the 2012 Olympics. And if that message was not clear enough, the following week at the 2011 International Indoor Combined Events meet in Tallinn, Estonia, Eaton broke his own world record for the heptathlon. The 23 year old tallied 6,568 points, 69 points more than his previous world record set just one short year earlier.
Ashton’s unique look and contagious smile makes him very easy to be around. He’s a fierce competitor and does so without compromising his good sportsmanship. One of Ashton’s most rewarding characteristics is his incredible self confidence on the track and his charismatic respectful nature off the track. These finer qualities Ashton attributes to the amazing job done by his single mother, Rosalyn Eaton. Admired by his opponents, Eaton’s accomplishments place him way ahead of his time and his record breaking performances make him a definite gold medal prospect for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.