Caitlyn Jenner’s message to Ashton Eaton after decathlon world record

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — One day in September, Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton found his phone and noticed a missed call and voicemail from a number he didn’t recognize.

He listened.

“Hey, this is Caitlyn,” the message began.

Caitlyn Jenner, who won the 1976 Olympic decathlon title as Bruce Jenner, called again shortly thereafter and this time did reach Eaton.

Less than a month earlier, Eaton repeated as World champion and broke the decathlon world record in Beijing. Also at Worlds, Eaton’s wife, Canadian Olympian Brianne Theisen-Eaton, earned her second straight silver in the heptathlon.

That’s why Jenner called, twice.

“She just said, ‘You know what, I just wanted to say congrats on the Worlds to both you and Brianne,’ which was very cool, and, ‘I thought you guys did great,'” Eaton recalled Monday.

Eaton couldn’t remember the last time he and Jenner, two of six living U.S. Olympic decathlon champions, had spoken. Though they are on good terms.

They also talked leading up to the 2012 Olympics, and Eaton believed more recently, but not since Jenner’s Diane Sawyer interview and Vanity Fair cover story last spring.

Eaton’s coach, Harry Marra, said Jenner called him a few hours after Eaton completed his two-day, record-breaking decathlon performance in Beijing.

“She woke me up at 3 o’clock in the morning,” Marra told CBS Albany in New York, near his hometown, last month. “‘Hey, I saw Ashton won, tell me about it.’ Decathon guys, people stay together. It’s a fraternity.

“Caitlyn and I have known each other since 1971, still remain friends, talk quite often.”

Jenner was the last decathlete to break the world record outright at the Olympics in 1976.

In 1984, Daley Thompson repeated as Olympic decathlon champion with a score that would later be fixed to tie the world record, then become the world record when a new scoring table was implemented in 1985.

Back to that September phone call. Jenner joked after the congratulations.

“The only thing is, you fell down at the end of the 1500 [meters],” she joked, according to Eaton. “She was like, ‘You’ve got to be tough. The U.S. never falls down at the end of the 15.'”

Eaton was so drained by the end of the 1500m, the 10th and final event, that he tumbled to the ground two steps after crossing the finish line in 4:17.52. He knew before the race that he needed 4:18.25 to break his world record.

The time was well off the 4:14.48 he clocked to cap a world record for the first time at the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., attended by Jenner. Eaton did not fall then.

But Eaton competed in Beijing under tougher circumstances than in Eugene, the pressure of a global championship, his first decathlon in nearly two years and in warmer weather.

He had trouble holding up an American flag on his victory lap at the 2008 Olympic Stadium.

“I was waving at people, and just raising my arm, it was going lactic,” Eaton said. “It was the weirdest thing.”

Eaton said he had fallen after a decathlon 1500m once before, at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

“Trials was different,” Eaton said. “I couldn’t go any faster, but I had more energy, if that makes sense. I didn’t expend it all. I just couldn’t go any faster. Whereas in something like Daegu and Beijing, I think because the days are so long, I’m using every last bit just to stay up.”

In Daegu, Eaton was also chasing a time. He needed to beat Cuban Leonel Suarez by about five seconds to overtake Suarez for the silver medal behind American Trey Hardee.

Eaton ended up beating Suarez by 5.22 seconds in a then-personal-best time and, after 10 events, four points in the standings.

At Daegu in 2011, Eaton took several steps past the finish line and slowly went down to lie on the blue track, as opposed to his quick tumble in Beijing four years later.

Jenner most definitely did not fall after his 1500m at the Montreal Olympics.

“Something I’ve always wondered is, are we really giving our all?” Eaton said Monday. “If everybody gave absolutely everything they had, shouldn’t we all just be crawling at the finish line?”

VIDEO: Eaton covers 36 stadium steps in 6 leaps

Chicago Marathon features Emily Sisson’s return, Conner Mantz’s debut, live on Peacock

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At Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, Emily Sisson makes her return, nearly three years after Olympic Trials disappointment. Conner Mantz makes one of the most anticipated U.S. men’s debuts in 26.2-mile racing.

It is not the norm, but an American will be one of the spotlight runners in both the men’s and women’s elite races at a major marathon. Peacock airs live coverage at 8 a.m. ET.

Sisson, 30, starts her first mass marathon since dropping out of the Olympic Trials on Feb. 29, 2020, her legs “destroyed” on the hilly Atlanta course where she started as arguably the favorite. She ran the virtual New York City Marathon later in 2020, but that was solo (and not in New York City). Her 2:38:00 isn’t recorded in her official results on her World Athletics bio.

Since, Sisson won the Olympic Trials 10,000m on the track and was the top American in Tokyo in 10th place. She moved back to the roads, winning national titles at 15km and the half marathon and breaking the American record in the latter.

Sisson vaulted into the elite group of U.S. female marathoners in 2019, when she clocked the second-fastest debut marathon in American history, a 2:23:08 on a windy day in London, where the early pace was slow.

At the time, it was the 12th-best U.S. performance all-time. In the last two years, Keira D’Amato, 37, and Sara Hall, 39, combined to run seven faster marathons. At Chicago, a flat course that produced a world record three years ago, Sisson can answer them and perhaps get close to D’Amato’s American record 2:19:12.

“I’m hoping sub-2:20,” coach Ray Treacy said, according to LetsRun.com. “With the [super] shoes and the training behind her, I would think that’s [worth] at least three minutes.”

It is less likely that Sisson can challenge for the win on Sunday given the presence of Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich, the 2019 World champion and defending champion in the Windy City. The 28-year-old mom is the fifth-fastest woman in history with a personal best of 2:17:08. And Ethiopian Ruti Aga, a podium finisher in Berlin, New York City and Tokyo with a best time of 2:18:34, though she has one marathon finish since the pandemic (a seventh place).

Like Sisson, Mantz has shown strong recent road racing form. The American men’s debut marathon record of 2:07:56 (Leonard Korir) is in play. If he can break that, Mantz will be among the five fastest U.S. marathoners in history.

Rarely has a U.S. male distance runner as accomplished as Mantz moved up to the marathon at such a young age (25). At BYU, he won NCAA cross-country titles in 2020 and 2021 and placed fifth in the Olympic Trials 10,000m, then turned pro and won the U.S. Half Marathon Championships last December.

“If everything goes as planned, I think sub-2:08 is realistic,” Mantz said in a Citius Mag video interview last month. “If everything goes perfect on the day, I think a sub-2:07, that’s a big stretch goal.”

The men’s field doesn’t have the singular star power of Chepngetich, but a large group of East Africans with personal bests around 2:05. The most notable: defending champion Seifu Tura of Ethiopia and 2021 Boston Marathon winner Benson Kipruto of Kenya.

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Alpine skiing to test new format for combined race

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Alpine skiing officials will test a new format for the combined event, a race that is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

French newspaper L’Equipe reported that the International Ski Federation (FIS) will test a new team format for the combined, which has been an individual event on the Olympic program since 1988. L’Equipe reported that a nation can use a different skier for the downhill and slalom in the new setup, quoting FIS secretary general Michel Vion.

For example, the U.S. could use Breezy Johnson in the downhill run and sub her out for Mikaela Shiffrin in the slalom run, should the format be adopted into senior competition.

The format will be tested at the world junior championships in January in St. Anton, Austria, according to the report.

In response to the report, a FIS spokesperson said, “Regarding the new format of the combined is correct, and our directors are working on the rules so for the moment the only thing we can confirm is that there will be this new format for the Alpine combined that has been proposed by the athletes’ commission.”

Some version of the combined event has been provisionally included on the 2026 Olympic program, with a final IOC decision on its place coming by April.

This will be the third consecutive World Cup season with no combined events. Instead, FIS has included more parallel races in recent years. The individual combined remains on the biennial world championships program.

L’Equipe also reported that the mixed team parallel event, which is being dropped from the Olympics, will also be dropped from the biennial world championships after this season.

“There is nothing definitive about that yet, but it is a project in the making,” a FIS spokesperson said in commenting on the report.

Vion said the mixed team event, which debuted at the Olympics in 2018, was not a hit at the Beijing Games and did not draw a strong audience, according to L’Equipe.

The World Cup season starts in two weeks with the traditional opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria.

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