Ashton Eaton in the Decathlon Javelin at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow (© Getty Images)
Ashton Eaton’s celebrations after winning his IAAF World Championships Decathlon title were likely to be muted as he was due to watch the woman he married last month, Canadian heptathlete Brianne Theisen, competing in her event, with an early start expected at the Luzhniki Stadium track on Monday.
The London 2012 Olympic Games champion and World record holder, whose preparations for his title defence have been undermined by injury this season, said his wife had not been at the track to see him secure victory as she was preparing herself for the forthcoming competition.
“She was at the hotel watching,” said Eaton with a grin. “She’s seen me win before and I think she has a really good opportunity tomorrow, and yes I’ll be at the track at 8am to watch her.
“I think watching multi-events is much worse than competing. Especially when you have vested interests because you go through the emotional ups and downs.”
Eaton identified two key moments in a competition in which the silver and bronze medals went to Germany’s Michael Schrader and Canada’s Damian Warner respectively.
The first came on the opening day when the man with a High Jump best of 2.11m had had only managed 1.93, his damaged hamstring having hampered his High Jump training since May. He responded with a storming 46.02 time in the day’s concluding event, the 400m, the fastest ever time over one lap of the track in a World Championships Decathlon.
“I think that going into the 400m I thought I was just having to go through the motions, like, 2011 in Daegu and having such a good year last year,” he said. “But I realised I couldn’t just do that. So in the 400m I decided to be competitive again and then to keep that going through day two.”
The next key point for him came during the penultimate event of the competition, the Javelin, when the lead he had carried overnight looked momentarily in peril as he produced an average throw and then a foul with the first two of his three allowed efforts.
“I was sweating bullets because I saw Michael (Schrader) throw a 65,” he said. “But I knew if I could throw 60-65 I’d be OK. So for my first one, 57, I thought ‘That’s not good’. And then my second throw – obviously terrible. So I was thinking back to Daegu when I had to beat [Leonel] Suarez by about four seconds in the 1500m to win the silver medal, and I didn’t want to put myself in that position again.
“So that was what was going through my head before the third throw. I didn’t have any technique on that throw. It was just the pure drive to be a winner.”
Speaking of the injury problems that had arrived after an untroubled Olympic year, Eaton added: “I think as a multi-event athlete you are always managing something, and the something that happened for me in May was a lower hamstring problem.
“It only affected my high jumping, but I haven’t been able to do too much training for that. Two days before this competition I tried jumping and I thought ‘That’s decent enough to do decent enough’. But something’s obviously got to get sorted.”
Reflecting upon a competition which had seen three Germans finish in the top 11, Schrader said: “Yes, it’s great. German decathlon is very good at the moment, and we are pushing each other with new scores. I hope next year it will be even better.”
He added: “I told Ashton he was unbeatable and it was impossible to win gold for the moment, so for me silver is perfect for me. I think I knew I could win a medal when I did a personal best with my third throw in the Discus.”
Warner recalled his first World Championships, when he finished 18th in 2011.
“After the competition I remember seeing Ashton, Trey [Hardee] and Leonel Suarez running around with their country’s flags, and I told my coach I wanted to do that. So I came out here and did just enough to have the Canadian flag flying alongside these two.”
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF