When It’s All On The Line: Final Pole Vault Attempt
On This Day: August 29, 2015 — Ashton Eaton Begins Quest To Repeat As ‘World’s Greatest Athlete’
“He set the world decathlon record at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2012 and then won gold in London. He raised his world record at the World Championships last year. He’s now seeking to become the first decathlete to win back-to-back Olympic titles since Britain’s Daley Thompson did it in 1980 and 1984.” — npr news
Information & Facts:
Ashton James Eaton
Born: January 21, 1988
Father: Terrance Wilson (changed his name when he abandoned the family)
Mother: Roslyn Eaton
Family: Parents separated when he was two years old
Raise By His Mom:
Tribune: Your older half-brother, Verice Bennett, 37, is a first sergeant in the Marines who received a silver star in 2011 for service in Afghanistan. Has he been an influence on your life?
Eaton: We have different moms, and I didn’t grow up with him. We met when I was 8 and Verice was 18. I remember going to his high school graduation in Seattle and thinking, “This is so cool.” I didn’t see him again until I was 20, but once we got back in contact, we had a lot to talk about, a lot in common. We saw each off and on, and it was great.
We’ve gotten pretty close. He was the best man in my wedding. He has been a big influence in the sense that it’s cool to talk to somebody who thinks the same as you. He says something first, and I’ll think, “That’s exactly what I was thinking.” He has a lot of experience in life. He has had to take people’s lives. He has had people’s lives taken in his own arms. He has his own kids. He has a lot of energy and passion for life. He is positive in spite of all the things he has experienced.
Tribune: What about your parents? Have they been influences?
Eaton: My father hasn’t been involved in my life since I can remember. My mom (Roslyn), we’re very close. She has always said it takes a village to raise a kid. In Africa, I found that to definitely be true. I had grandparents in my life, and Mom found male influences who were very important in my development — coaches and mentors. I look back at my childhood in Bend and think, “That was pretty awesome.”
“I wasn’t completely naive of situations,” he noted. “When my mom would act like everything was okay, it was more powerful to me because I knew that it wasn’t and how strong she was trying to be but how much she was hurting. I didn’t want to grow up to be like the people that made her feel that way. I also didn’t want to contribute to hurting her. I wanted to accomplish things so that she could see that she was doing something good.” – Ashton Eaton
Married: Brianne Theisen-Eaton — a Canadian Olympic bronze medalist in the heptathlon
Olympic Medalist: Two-time Olympic champion
2012 Summer Olympics in London
2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro
World Records: World record holder in decathlon and indoor heptathlon
“RIO DE JANEIRO — Having missed on his first two attempts at 4.90 meters in the pole vault, Ashton Eaton was aware of what stood in the balance should he fail to succeed in his third try at the height.
“That was the moment I thought, all right, your whole life has been about this,” he said. “Get ready. What are you going to do?”
He’d clear the height. In the next event, the javelin throw, he faced a similar dilemma: Eaton hated his first toss and was only moderately pleased with his second.
His third, at 59.77 meters, was good enough.
And he entered the final event of the decathlon, the 1,500 meters, with only 44-point lead on Kevin Mayer, a 24-year-old Frenchman with designs on upending the decathlon’s status quo.” — USA Today
On August 29, 2015, Eaton scored all-time high of 9,045 points in the decathlon.
“Aston Eaton running forty-five seconds for four hundred metres in the decathlon on his way to the world record. To put that in perspective, that’s a four-hundred-metre time that could win the national championships in all but three of four countries in the world, and medial in every national championships in the world. And he did it in the middle of maybe the most grueling of athletic contest while simultaneously performing in nine other completely different events.” — Malcomb Gladwell commenting on this 2015 decathlon event
“For the first time the winner of the decathlon may b the best athlete in the world” — David Epstein
“To break the world record, he needed to run a 4:18 fifteen hundred mitre in the last event. And he ran 4:17! . . . . I like too that he’s a very different athlete from many previous decathlon champion. In my lifetime, most of the winners have been those big, broad-shouldered dudes. But Eaton is relatively small. He’s the size of a cornerback (6’1″, a hundred and eighty-five pounds) as opposed to the size of an outside linebacker. And yet he somehow does well enough in the throws — and magnificently well enough in the jumps and sprints — to b the greatest ever.” — Nicholas Thompson
Retired: January 2017 — ““I gave everything to the decathlon. I did all I could. Thank you for making it the best time of my life. I’m retiring.””
“The only thing missing is a finish line. Track and field — whether the decathlon, heptathlon or any other event — always has a clear conclusion: reaching the medal podium, for example, for Eaton and Theisen-Eaton. Not so in retirement, which in stark contrast lacks a distinct end point.”
“The thing I like about is also the thing I dislike: It’s the maximum challenge, but also the maximum frustration.”
“When I see my mom in the stands, it always pushes me to succeed.”
“It’s important not to make the gold medal bigger than it is.”
“I wouldn’t say there was a moment of realization when I wanted to be a runner; it was always just something I was.”
I always liked running as a kid. You know how eating chocolate or ice cream makes you feel good? That’s the same way that running and competing makes me feel.
After a trip by World Vision To Kenya:
“Seeing these kids in bare feet, running full tilt down a rocky hill, not a care in the world, laughing—it’s absolutely the most beautiful running I’ve ever seen—such effortless grace . . . . They have the hardest feet but the softest faces and brightest smiles.” — Ashton Eaton
Four Things You Need To Succeed As An Athlete — by Ashton Easton
Key Illustrative Thoughts:
• against all odds
• Mother’s Day
• broken families
• mind, ability, coaching, environment
• putting things into perspective
• it’s like eating ice cream
• both challenge & frustration
• not always a clear conclusion, like the finish line in track
• when it is all on the line
• a mother’s love
• love for a mother
Other Information & Links:
Great Article on Mom & Son: https://1859oregonmagazine.com/think-oregon/art-culture/oregon-olympic-athlete-ashton-eaton/