RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - After just two years of marriage, Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton are hoping this month to enjoy what most couples wait 50 years for — a very special golden celebration.
American Eaton is the world record holder in the decathlon, while Canadian Theisen-Eaton is the favorite for heptathlon at the Aug. 22-30 world championships in Beijing.
Should they both succeed in winning gold in their grueling events, they will become the first married couple to win multi-event competitions in the same global championship.
“I think there is a good chance for this husband and wife team,” multi-event expert Frank Zarnowski told Reuters.
“Ashton is a pretty safe bet to win,” Zarnowski said via email. “I think Brianne can win but it’ll be closer.”
Married in 2013, the couple have excelled under multi-events coach Harry Marra in Eugene, Oregon, where they both attended university.
From a 2011 world silver medal, Ashton Eaton has soared to the highest decathlon score ever, 9,039 points, at the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials.
He also has three world records in the indoor heptathlon to go with his London Olympic victory, the 2013 world championship and global indoor heptathlon gold medals from 2012 and 2014.
Theisen-Eaton, along with her 2014 Commonwealth title, has the highest women’s heptathlon score in the world this year, a Canadian record 6,808 points at Gotzis in May.
“We’re on a mission to win gold medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics,” the couple said on their blog.
But first there is Beijing.
Eaton’s closest challenge is likely to come from U.S. twice world champion Trey Hardee while two Britons, 2014 world leader Katarina Johnson-Thompson and returning 2012 Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill, stand in Theisen-Eaton’s way.
“Crucial event for Bri will be high jump,” Zarnowski said of the 26-year-old. “Anything over 1.85 meters and she is golden.”
Eaton’s decathlon follows five days after the heptathlon and another big show looms for the 27-year-old American.
“The high jump could be really good for him since he has had good practice jumps, but has never done that well in a high jump in a decathlon,” Zarnowski said.
A personal best 5.50 meters in the pole vault over the weekend and his recent 400m run of 45.55 seconds, another lifetime mark, demonstrate Eaton is in good shape.
The worlds will be his first decathlon this year, another motivating factor.
“He was very disappointed about having to drop out in Gotzis,” Zarnowski said of a lower back problem that led Eaton to withdraw from the May decathlon.
Editing by Nick Mulvenney and Greg Stutchbury