I give everything to the decathlon. I did all I could. Thank u for making it the best time of my life. I’m retiring. http://www.weareeaton.com/
And that is how, the World’s Greatest Athlete and his wife, Brianne Theisen-Eaton announced their retirement. Here are some thoughts on the retirement of We are Eaton.
The multi-events are quite difficult, not only physically, but mentally. Harry Marra, long time coaches of Ashton and Brianne once told me that his biggest job was keeping multi-events healthy!
In April 2013, I visited with Ashton, Brianne and Harry Marra, courtesy of the IAAF as part of the Day in the Life program, one of the finest promotional programs by the IAAF ever concieved (we saw Aries Merritt, Galen, Mo, Cam Levins and Matt Centrowitz as well). It was fun watching them train under the watchful eye of Harry Marra.
The interviews with Ashton and Brianne, who were training for Moscow 2013 and their wedding as well, were light and fun. Observing their working style, their focus and their long days gave us more of an appreciation of their athletic talent, desire and plans.
I have met and interviewed the late Bob Mathias, Milt Campbell, Bill Toomey, Bruce (now Caitlyn) Jenner, plus Rafer Johnson. I interviewed Dave Johnson and Dan O’Brien of Dan and Dave fame. I met and interviewed Roman Sebrle. The decathlon and heptathlon are unique events. The athletes in the events are the heroic, and the drama in the multi events is like an Italian opera. There are ebbs and flows, highs and lows, and the changes in a jump, throw or run in multi events. That is what I remember.
I have to say, Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton lead by example. I recall watching Ashton after Daegu in 2011. He did not win there, it was not his day. But, he showed class, and I was impressed with that at the Nike post event presser. He took second in 8,505 points, loosing to Trey Hardee, who won with 8,607 points. It was last decathlon that Ashton lost in his career.
The announcement today that Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton are retiring comes as a bit of a surprise. But, it really should not have come as a surprise. I recall in 2014, at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, where Ashton Eaton was cheering on Brianne Theisen-Eaton. We caught up for a few minutes, in between events, as I asked if Harry Marra (their coach), was there. Ashton and I did some small talk, and we got on to upcoming events, and where they would compete next. Ashton smiled and me, and said, “It is all about Rio.”
Over the next few weeks, many will chronicle their amazing athletic exploits, and they are amazing athletes. But, in this age of cynicism, and over used social media, where athletes, media personalities and politicians barely live up to normal human standards, much less anything else, Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton were unusual. They surpassed expectations.
Final recollection tonight: I recall an interview with Ashton and Brianne just before Moscow 2013. It was April 2013, and we were in Eugene. A group of writers and photo journalists, courtesy of IAAF. It was called a Day in the Life, (and it is a most amazing program by the IAAF), and we were there to find out what maked Ashton and Brianne tick.
Ashton spoke of his first decathlon. He spoke of the event with affection, and the honesty of someone who actually liked what they do.
That came back to me when I asked Ashton what he learnt in 2014 when he focused on the 400 meter hurdles. Ashton Eaton has already been a student of the sport. In seeing Ashton and Brianne together, I always liked how they supported each other. As elite athletes, who have have to be selfish to succeed, the Eatons were able to combine those needs and the needs of a couple in love. I like that. I respect that. For me, it makes their athletic performances all the more amazing.
I will miss them. They are good people, as well as good athletes.