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Oregon's Ashton Eaton Defends Olympic Gold At Rio Olympics

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Washington Rowing

Oregon's Ashton Eaton successfully defended his Olympic decathlon title Thursday night at the Summer Games in Rio. Eaton stayed on top of the leader board for nearly all of the two-day, ten event test of speed, strength and stamina.

Eaton accumulated 8,893 points, comfortably ahead of the second place finisher, Kevin Mayer of France, but shy of the world record Eaton set last year.

Eaton grimaced at the end of final event, the 1500-meter run. The thrill of victory took a while to replace weariness on his face as he congratulated the runners up, then hugged his wife and his coach in the first row of spectators.

"I wasn’t nervous, I was willing to run myself into the hospital if I had to," Eaton told reporters after the competition. He said good performances in the throwing events kept him on top.

"I remember I was taking a cold shower after the javelin and I was thinking, ‘Yea I would do it, I’d run into that.'"

The decathlon champion earns the unofficial title of "world's greatest athlete," though Eaton chooses not to flaunt that moniker.

The 28-year-old who was raised in Bend and now lives in Eugene had a Northwest rival at these Olympics. Jeremy Taiwo of Seattle finished 11th in the decathlon with 8,300 points.

The ten events of the decathlon are the 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400-meter dash, 110-meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1500-meter run.

Last Saturday, Eaton's wife Brianne captured the bronze medal in the women's version of this competition, the heptathlon. Brianne Theisen-Eaton represented her native Canada at the Rio Games. The couple met in college while both competed for the University of Oregon in track and field.

"I’m glad that I got to watch every second of it and she’s a massive inspiration for me," Eaton said. "For us to have done this together, I can’t put it into words.”

A second Oregonian wins gold

Also Thursday, 23-year-old Ryan Crouser of suburban Portland putted the shot a personal best and Olympic record of 73'-10.6" (22.52m) to take home gold.

The Olympic shot put record that Crouser broke dated back a long time. At the 1988 Seoul Games, East German Ulf Timmermann heaved the shot 73'-8.6" (22.77m), a put that Crouser remembers reviewing on video many times.

“I’ve watched [Timmermann’s] throw probably 10,000 times," Crouser told a Team USA writer Thursday night. "I thought that was one of the most beautiful throws I had ever seen. To break that record at the Olympics is truly special."

Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.