One of the most dominant decathletes Team USA has ever produced, two-time Olympic champion Ashton Eaton on Wednesday announced his retirement from competition, as did his wife, Canadian Olympic heptathlon medalist Brianne Theisen-Eaton.
“I have done everything there is to do as a decathlete, so I am departing from the sport,” Eaton, 28, said in a letter to USA Track & Field. “I would keep everything the same if I had to do it over again.”
Eaton leaves the sport after successfully defending his Olympic title at the Rio 2016 Games, where he became the first American to repeat as Olympic champion since Bob Mathias (1948, 1952) and only the third decathlete to achieve the feat, joining Mathias and Great Britain’s Daley Thompson (1980, 1984).
“To win two Olympic golds in a row like Daley Thompson is very special,” Eaton said to the IAAF after being nominated for its World Athlete of the Year award. “One day, I’m going to have to meet Daley, shake his hand and thank him for giving me something to chase after.”
The second man to surpass the 9,000-point barrier, Eaton is the only one to do it twice. He set the world record with 9,039 points at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Eugene, Oregon, then broke his own mark with a 9,045-point performance at the 2015 world outdoor championships in Beijing, where he won his second consecutive gold medal.
The two-time Olympian tied the Olympic record in Rio, scoring 8,893 points to equal the mark set in 2004 by Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic.
“Frankly there isn’t much more I want to do in sport,” Eaton said in a farewell message posted on his personal website. “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.”
After taking silver at the 2011 world championships in Daegu, Korea, Eaton has been golden ever since, including two Olympic golds, two outdoor world titles and three consecutive indoor heptathlon crowns, the most recent coming last March in his hometown of Portland, Oregon. His run of medals in three consecutive outdoor world championships was the first by an American since Dan O’Brien won three straight golds (1991-95).
Theisen-Eaton, simultaneously announced her retirement. The reigning indoor pentathlon champion, she earned bronze in women’s heptathlon at the Rio 2016 Games and also holds a gold medal from the 2014 Commonwealth Games, three outdoor world championship silver medals and a bronze from the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.