Ashton Eaton three-peats at World Indoors, but wife ‘stole the show’

Leave a comment

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — His gold medal was nice. His wife’s meant even more.

Ashton Eaton told the hometown crowd that and drew quite a few “Ahhs.” Then again, he did win in what amounted to a landslide.

Lately, though, when doesn’t he?

Eaton earned his third straight heptathlon title at the World Indoor Track and Field Cchampionships Saturday night, taking all the suspense out of the competition with another dominating performance.

The only real drama left was whether he could break his indoor world mark, but an exhausted Eaton didn’t have a burst in the 1000m, the final event of seven. He finished with 6,470 points, 175 behind the indoor mark he set four years ago in Istanbul.

This has been quite a World Indoor Championships for Team Eaton. His wife, Brianne Theisen-Eaton of Canada, won the pentathlon title the day before with an incredible performance in the last event. He greeted her with a hug after her race. She greeted him this time, the crowd applauding for the first couple of multi-events.

“You know what, it didn’t matter what happened to me today,” Ashton Eaton said, adding that his wife’s performance “made the whole meet for me.”

“You guys know, she stole the show,” he said.

Eaton now has six straight major titles, including gold at the 2012 London Olympics. He will be the overwhelming favorite to defend his crown at the Rio Games.

The World Championships conclude Sunday, on NBC Sports Live Extra at 3:30-6 p.m. ET and NBCSN from 4-6.

In other events Saturday, American Barbara Pierre used a blazing start to beat a favored Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands in the women’s 60m final. It was part of a banner day for the United States, which has eight gold medals and 15 total heading into the final day of the competition Sunday.

Some of the biggest names in track — Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin and Allyson Felix — skipped the championships. The Russians aren’t here, either, because of pending doping and corruption charges.

In the 800m, Boris Berian of Colorado Springs, Colo., went from fast food to the fast lane. Two years ago, he was working at McDonald’s to fund his training. He ordered up a win by taking the lead during the opening lap and then held off a talented field.

“Got excited but stayed positive and trusted my training and hung on,” said Berian, who quit his job at McDonald’s in November 2014.

Think this sort of day would ever arrive when working at the hamburger chain?

“Not like this. Not this fast,” Berian said.

The most interesting look of the evening belonged to Italian high jumper Gianmarco Tamberi, who was clean shaven on the right side of his face and had stubble on the right.

By a razor-thin margin, he won the event over Robbie Grabarz of Britain.

Tamberi’s half-beard look at major meets has become his trademark. He’s the consummate entertainer, too, shaking hands with the fans and later executing a perfect backflip into the mat after his win.

In other finals Saturday:

Dong Bin of China took gold in the men’s triple jump.

– Czech Republic’s Pavel Maslak earned the men’s 400m title.

Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela won the women’s triple jump.

– American Michelle Carter cruised to the women’s shot put crown.

Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands beat two Ethiopians to earn gold in the women’s 1500m.

Oluwakemi Adekoya of Bahrain held off Americans Ashley Spencer and Quanera Hayes to win the women’s 400m.

“I am proud of myself. Really, really proud,” Adekoya said. “I am the only person to represent my country without a coach here. I am really proud of myself.”

MORE: What Caitlyn Jenner told Ashton Eaton after decathlon world record

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

Alex Zanardi
AP
Leave a comment

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
Getty Images
Leave a comment

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

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!