Ashton Eaton
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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

Alex Zanardi, auto racer turned Paralympic champion, has 5-hour surgery to rebuild face after crash

Alex Zanardi
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SIENA, Italy (AP) — Italian auto racing champion-turned-Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi underwent a five-hour surgery Monday to reconstruct his face following a crash on his handbike last month.

It was the third major operation that Zanardi has had since he crashed into an oncoming truck near the Tuscan town of Pienza on June 19 during a relay event.

Dr. Paolo Gennaro of Santa Maria alle Scotte Hospital in Siena said the operation required three-dimensional digital and computerized technology that was “made to measure” for Zanardi.

“The complexity of the case was fairly unique, although this is a type of fracture that we deal with routinely,” Gennaro said in a hospital statement.

After the surgery, Zanardi was returned to the intensive care unit in a medically induced coma.

“His condition remains stable in terms of his cardio-respiratory status and grave in terms of his neurological status,” the hospital medical bulletin read.

The 53-year-old Zanardi, who lost both of his legs in an auto racing crash nearly 20 years ago, has been on a ventilator since the crash.

Zanardi suffered serious facial and cranial trauma, and doctors have warned of possible brain damage.

Zanardi won four gold medals and two silvers at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. He also competed in the New York City Marathon and set an Ironman record in his class.

Last month, Pope Francis penned a handwritten letter of encouragement assuring Zanardi and his family of his prayers. The pope praised Zanardi as an example of strength amid adversity.

Shawn Johnson East shares struggles with body image, prescription drugs

Shawn Johnson
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Shawn Johnson East, a 2008 Olympic gymnastics champion, detailed past struggles with body image and prescription drugs and reflected on her eating disorder as an elite athlete, to show there is hope to others in difficult situations.

“It all started with pregnancy and having my daughter,” East, who had daughter Drew in October, said on TODAY on Monday. “I had so many people asking me questions about how did pregnancy affect you mentally and how did you get your body back after having your daughter. I couldn’t answer that without giving a greater and a larger story.”

East first went public about her undiagnosed teenage eating disorders in 2015, three years after retiring from the sport. She said she limited herself to 700 calories per day and didn’t tell her parents.

In a June YouTube video, Johnson said she also binged and purged, including while dating future husband Andrew in the mid-2010s. And that she had depression and anxiety in 2011, when she returned to competition for the first time since the Beijing Games.

“I thought it would fix all of my problems,” East said of returning to gymnastics for a 2012 Olympic bid.

When East won “Dancing with the Stars” in 2009, she “hit a very low spot” going through puberty on national TV. She said she gained 15 pounds after the 2008 Olympics and started taking medications and drugs “to look like I did at the Olympics.” It included fad diets, diuretics and a three-week stretch of eating nothing but raw vegetables.

“Most pain of my entire life because I couldn’t digest anything,” she said.

At some point in 2011, East began feeling burned out. She was back to eating too few calories and overtraining. An unnamed USA Gymnastics doctor prescribed her Adderall “to lose more weight, have more energy and be more successful in gymnastics.” She took “heavy doses.”

“It helped my performances, but there were massive consequences to it,” she said. “I continued to compete into 2012, where I just started to get depressed.

“I was overdosing on Adderall. I was overdosing on any medication that wouldn’t be caught by USADA.”

Adderall was a banned substance in competition without a therapeutic use exemption, but was legal outside of competition.

“I was so controlled by other people’s opinions that I wouldn’t live up to that Olympic standard that I did anything to get it back and I could never have it back,” East said. “I didn’t learn that until later on.”

East’s mental hurdles re-emerged when she had a miscarriage in 2017. She blamed herself, believing her unhealthy lifestyle in the past was a contributor.

“Our natural inclination is to say, what did I do? And what did I do wrong?” she said. “It haunted me. I felt like I had sacrificed everything for an Olympic medal to not actually get the dream I had wanted my entire life [to have a child].”

With the help of a nutritionist and therapist and her husband, she conquered the demons through her 2019 pregnancy and childbirth.

“Having gone through a whole pregnancy and knowing that I felt confident through the whole thing, I feel like I’ve climbed Everest,” she said.

MORE: Why Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson went 8 years without talking

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