Brianne Theisen-Eaton and Ashton Eaton at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 (© AFP / Getty Images)
USA’s two-time Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton and Canada’s world indoor pentathlon champion Brianne Theisen-Eaton announced their retirement from athletics on Wednesday (4).
The husband-and-wife duo have been among the world’s best combined events athletes for several years. After exploding on to the scene with a world indoor heptathlon record of 6499 at the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships, Eaton went on to take a silver medal at the following year’s IAAF World Championships in Daegu.
His progress continued into 2012 when he won the world indoor heptathlon title with a world indoor record of 6645. Outdoors, he broke the decathlon world record on home turf at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene, scoring 9039, and then won the Olympic title in London with 8869.
Eaton won back-to-back world titles in 2013 and 2015, improving his own world record to 9045 in the process. At the end of the 2015 season, he was named IAAF World Athlete of the Year.
He had another superb season in 2016, winning a third consecutive world indoor title on home soil in Portland and then retaining his Olympic title in Rio, equalling the Olympic record of 8893.
He retires with two Olympic titles, two world titles, three world indoor titles, the two best decathlon scores in history and five of the top six heptathlon scores ever.
Like her husband, Theisen-Eaton was an NCAA champion indoors and outdoors before establishing herself on the international scene. She earned silver medals at the 2013 and 2015 World Championships, as well as at the 2014 World Indoor Championships. She also topped the podium at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Theisen-Eaton was victorious at the prestigious Hypo Meeting in Gotzis in 2015 and 2016, setting a Canadian record of 6808 when winning in 2015.
One of the highlights of her career came at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016, where she took gold with a North American record of 4881. She went on to finish third at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with 6653, her best ever score at a major championships.
“It’s my time to depart from athletics; to do something new,” Eaton wrote in a post on their website. “Frankly there isn’t much more I want to do in sport. I gave the most physically robust years of my life to the discovery and pursuit of my limits in this domain. Did I reach them? Truthfully I'm not sure anyone really does. It seems like we tend to run out of time or will before we run out of potential. That makes humanity limitless then, as far as I'm concerned. And I think that's inspiring.
“To my supporters and sponsors; the things I have achieved were achieved together with you. At times when I was doubtful, you believed. And if I was confident, it was also because you believed. Thank you for the love and support.”
Theisen-Eaton also explained her decision in the same post on their website.
“Crossing the 800m finish line in Rio, I was mentally exhausted,” she wrote. “I felt like I never wanted to do another heptathlon again. This feeling confused me.
“As the start of the 2017 season drew nearer, I felt more and more resistant to begin training. I gave the last 4 years everything I could. I put my life on hold. But I’ve done it. I went after what I set out to do and whether I achieved it or fell short is not the point. The point is that I know deep down that I gave it every ounce of energy I had and that if I went back and did it all over again, I would not change a thing; I could not have done anything better.
“With that, I’ve decided to retire. It’s time to move on to my next passion, the next thing in the world I hope to make an impact in.”
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF