LIndsay Rossmiller wrote this piece on Ashton Eaton and provides us some the details to what makes Ashton Eaton tick. Eaton is the finest male athletics specialist in the world, and his wife, Brianne Theisen-Eaton is battling the best in the heptathlon.
His 8,750 was exceptional, considering the injuries he has dealt with this spring. Now, onto Rio.
Ashton Eaton Looking Straight Ahead to Rio
by Lindsay Rossmiller
Crouched in the starting blocks, Ashton Eaton looks straight ahead. While his competitors look down at their fingers and the start line, Eaton stares down the finish line unmoving, until they explode from the start.
He wins the 100 meters in 10.34 seconds and with that, they move on to the long jump as the decathlon at the U.S. Olympic Trials gets underway.
Eaton has faced questions this season after dealing with some injuries to his quad in the spring. He withdrew from the long jump in Ostrava on May 20 when he said his quad didn’t feel quite right. He told the media prior to the start of the Trials, “I think I actually tore the dang thing.”
Saturday was the first real test to his fitness as those in attendance watched anxiously to see if he would remain as unbeatable as he seems to be. After the first day, he said the quad didn’t end up bothering him.
“I had a tight hamstring that was bothering me that came on during warm up, but I suppose that’s what happens when you’re a 28-year-old decathlete,” said Eaton.
The defending Olympic and world champion, not to mention world record holder, is one of U.S. track and field’s most recognizable athletes and as such, all eyes tend to be on him.
Since the Trials are held at Hayward Field, home of the Oregon Ducks and where Eaton competed as a collegian, those eyes and attention tend to be magnified. He is the hometown hero who grew up just two hours east as another Olympic decathletes from the state of Oregon.
He appears focused on the task at hand, although that intensity cracks at times. Like when he recognizes someone waving at him on the side of the track he knows or when he picks up a piece of trash on the side of the track to hand to an official as he’s warming up.
The stands are filled with fans who yell, “Come on Ash!” and “Let’s go Ashton!” as he stands on the pole vault runway trying to clear 5.25 meters for the third time.
He tends to be fairly stoic as he competes each event. It’s not until the last round or when he makes what he’s been trying to that his face breaks into a smile. After he clears 5.25 meters in the pole vault, he jumps up from the mat punching his fist to the sky. It’s only then, that he points to the crowd recognizing those who have been cheering.
He walks to the edge of the grandstand where his coach, Harry Marra, waits. They look at each other smiling as they bump both their fists together, knowing that even with two events to go, Eaton has won another trip to the Olympics and becomes just the fourth decathlete to ever win two Olympic Trials.
Though not on pace from 2012 when Eaton set the World record the first time, Eaton still finishes up the afternoon with a 2016 world leading score of 8,750 points.
He seems more at ease on the field and as part of the group than anything else. After the competition wraps up, the decathletes stop for their traditional group photo in the steeplechase pit. As the group cheers him on, Eaton somersaults himself over the barrier into the water to the delight of the others.
He seems uncomfortable with all the attention. So uncomfortable even that he refuses to answer further questions in the post-competition press conference until one of the other two decathletes, Ziemek and Taiwo, are asked questions as well.
After the meet, an award ceremony takes place behind the west grandstand where Eaton, Zach Zimek, and Jeremy Taiwo receive their medals. Eaton high-fives the camera guy after being presented his medal.
“What you’re watching is 10% of what we do. 90% is our practice 6 days a week so you have to adopt a mentality of trying to beat myself,” Eaton tells the crowd before giving advice to Zimek and Taiwo. “Have fun. You don’t have to be anything different when you go to the Games.”
As “All I Do Is Win” plays, Eaton, Zimek and Taiwo wave to the crowd and begin to walk away.