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Central Oregon’s ‘full athlete:’ Ashton Eaton looks back on training to win 2 Olympic golds

(Update: Adding video, comments by Eaton, coaches)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- If anyone knows how hard it is to train for the Olympic decathlon, it's probably Central Oregon's own Ashton Eaton.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time world decathlon champion told NewsChannel 21 the event is "representative of the full athlete."

"I think it's also representative of that fight and grit that you have as a person," Eaton said.

Eaton was born in Portland, but moved to La Pine when he was just 2 years old. He ended up graduating from Bend's Mountain View High School in 2006.

"I worked on a ranch and did, like farm work as a high school kid, which was not easy and was like character building," Eaton said. "But those are some of the things I think that discipline, that hard-working spirit. That spirit of being outdoors and pushing yourself, as we know from Central Oregon and that outdoor sports scene."

That discipline is important, because his coaches said the training is actually tougher than the event itself.

His professional coach, Harry Marra, said, "Not necessarily just the physical, but the physical, mental and emotional."

Marra coached both Eaton and his then-girlfriend, now-wife Brianne at the University of Oregon and through their professional careers.

"The key with Ashton was to listen to a concept that was new to him," Marra said. "He'd think about it and try it -- and more often than not, it worked. He could pick up things pretty quickly."

But Marra said that was something that goes back to before he met Eaton, and that every athlete he had worked with had a previous coach who "laid great foundations."

For Eaton, that was former Mountain View track coach Tate Metcalf.

Metcalf first met Eaton when he was in the fifth grade, but he quickly saw his potential.

"His senior year is when I actually told him he will go to Olympics one day," Metcalf said. "And then we were at the Olympics of 2012 in London. He came up to my wife and I after the long jump and he was like, 'You said we were going to be here!'"

To demonstrate what the training looks like, Metcalf walked NewsChannel 21's Jack Hirsh through the training for a 100-meter dash. Eaton set a then-Olympic decathlon best of 10.35 seconds in 2012.

Eaton and his wife Brianne retired after winning medals in the Rio 2016 games. They've moved back to Portland, where their had their first child in January 2020.

But Eaton will never forget his home.

"I didn't abandon Central Oregon," Eaton said. "It's still a place very close to my heart. I love the High Desert, and I'm excited to be back in Oregon and even closer." 

Article Topic Follows: Olympic Zone

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Jack Hirsh

Jack Hirsh is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jack here.


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