Ashton Eaton is an American two-time Olympic champion who holds the world record in both the decathlon and indoor heptathlon events. He is just the second decathlete (after Roman Šebrle) to break the 9,000-point barrier, with 9,039 points. A highly successful athlete, he won the gold medal in decathlon at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, and defended his Olympic title in Rio in 2016 by winning the decathlon gold medal once again. Interested in athletics from a young age, Eaton began professionally competing in the decathlon and heptathlon in 2008. While he made it to the U.S. Olympic trials in 2008, he failed to make it to the Games after finishing fifth. But he trained really hard over the ensuing months to win the heptathlon at the NCAA Championships in 2009 and 2010. Eventually he made his Olympic debut at the Summer Games in London in 2012 and won the gold medal in decathlon. He proceeded to win other international championships over the ensuing years and the second Olympic gold medal of his career at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016. With this feat he joined US Olympian Bob Mathias and Daley Thompson of Great Britain as the only men to have won two Olympic gold medals in the decathlon.
Childhood & Early Life
Ashton James Eaton was born on January 21, 1988, in Portland, Oregon, United States as the only child of Roslyn Eaton and Terrance Wilson. His father is African-American, and his mother is Caucasian. His maternal grandfather, as well as his father played football. His mother was an athlete and a dancer.
His parents separated when he was a toddler and he was raised by his single mother. Inheriting his family’s penchant for sports, he started competing in football, basketball, running, soccer, and wrestling as a school boy.
He attended Mountain View High School and was coached by Tate Metcalf and John Nosler in track and field. In 2006, he won the state high school 400 m championship in 48.69 seconds and the long jump championship with a leap of 7.3216 m.
By the time he graduated from high school he had developed a strong interest in decathlon and chose the University of Oregon which granted him a partial decathlon scholarship.
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At Oregon, Ashton Eaton was initially coached by Dan Steele, the associate director of track and a former decathlete under whose guidance the young man greatly improved his performance in the 1500 m, high jump, hurdles, and pole vault.
In 2008, Eaton won the decathlon at the NCAA Men's Outdoor Track and Field Championship, and successfully defended his title the next year. He also won the heptathlon at the NCAA Championships in 2009 and 2010.
In 2010, he won his third consecutive NCAA decathlon title, becoming the first male athlete to win three consecutive titles in the event.
By 2010, he had become a world indoor heptathlon record holder, with a top score of 6,645. The following year, he won a silver medal in the decathlon at the IAAF world championships, his first international medal.
In 2011 he also reached the first position in the decathlon at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships with a score of 8,729.
He proceeded to win the heptathlon gold medal at the IAAF world indoor championships in 2012. He performed well at the US decathlon trials for the 2012 London Olympic Games and totaled 9,039 points to break the event’s world record. Expectations were high from him for the games and he did not disappoint—he clinched the decathlon gold medal at the London Games with 8,869 points.
Continuing with his amazing form, he went on to win the 2013 world title in the decathlon with an 8809-point performance in Moscow.
He then won the gold medal in the Heptathlon at the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships held in Sopot, Poland.
In 2015 he won the World Championships title in the decathlon improving his own world record with a 9045-point performance in Beijing.
He participated in the 2016 Summer Olympics at Rio where he once again won the gold medal in the two-day, 10-event decathlon with a score of 8,893 points. After winning consecutive gold medals in decathlon at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, Ashton Eaton joined US Olympian Bob Mathias and Daley Thompson of Great Britain as the only men to have won two gold medals in the event.
Awards & Achievements
Ashton Eaton is just the third man in the Olympic history to win the Olympic gold twice in decathlon. He won it in 2012 London Olympics and 2016 Rio Olympics.
In 2010, he won the Bowerman award, an annual track and field award that is the highest accolade given to the year's best student-athlete in American collegiate track and field.
He received the men's Jesse Owens Award in 2012.
In 2015 he was named IAAF World Athlete of the Year and Men's Track & Field Athlete of the Year.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 2013 Ashton Eaton married his University of Oregon teammate, Canadian multi-event athlete Brianne Theisen who he had first met in 2006.
His wife is a heptathlon silver medalist from the 2013 World Championships and 2015 World Championships. She also won a silver medal in pentathlon at the 2014 World Indoor Championships and the bronze in the heptathlon at the 2016 Olympics.