Having recently tied the knot to American-born world champion decathlete Ashton Eaton, 24 year-old Brianne Theisen-Eaton emerged as Canada’s sweetheart during the 2013 World Track and Field Championships. Her silver medal in the Heptathlon event catapulted her into the national spotlight. Having battled with a cold during part of her stay in Russia, she displayed remarkable character as she competed in seven events over a two-day span.
It was a notable event in Canadian sporting history as she became only the third Canadian female to grab a medal at the World Track and Field championships, following Priscilla Lopes-Schliep and Perdita Felicien. Hailing from Humboldt, Saskatchewan, she is the Canadian record holder in the indoor pentathlon with 4555 points.
Luzkniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia would serve as the backdrop for the first medal of her international career. Despite winning the 800-meter race (the final event), she finished a visceral 56 points behind champion Ganna Melnichenko of Ukrane, who accumulated 6586 points for the gold. Two days before she grabbed the silver, her husband grabbed the gold in the decathlon.
Of note, the 6530 points was a personal best for Theisen-Eaton. The day that she grabbed the silver marked exactly one month since the new power couple in track and field tied the knot. Earlier in the year, she accumulated 6376 points to win the 2013 Hypo Meeting in Gotzis, Austria.
Although she has become an overnight sensation, the road to getting there was one that consisted of great commitment. In 2007, she was the Pan American Junior Heptathlon Champion. Her first appearance in the World Championships came in 2009. Contested in Berlin, Germany, she ranked fifteenth in the Heptathlon. Three years later, she would make her Summer Games debut. Competing at London 2012, she would manage an eleventh place finish in the same event.
While her July 13 marriage to Eaton is a sporting match made in heaven, their relationship dates back to their athletic tenure at the University of Oregon. Ironically, both share the same coach, Harry Marra. Of note, Marra is such an integral part of their lives that he was the pastor at their wedding ceremony. A former coach with San Francisco State for 12 years, he helped coach both of them to NCAA titles in 2010. In addition, former Oregon pole vaulter Melissa Gergel was one of the bridesmaids at the wedding, representing the strong ties to the Ducks program.
Her tenure at Oregon was one filled with numerous championships. The eight-time All-American at Oregon also set five school records (heptathlon, 100-meter hurdles, pentathlon, 60-meter hurdles and high jump). From 2010 to 2012, she was the NCAA Indoor Champion in the Pentathlon. In 2011, she set an NCAA record with 4,540 points.
During the NCAA Outdoor Championships, she grabbed titles in the Heptathlon from 2009-10 and 2012. The back-to-back victories made her the first Oregon Duck athlete to win heptathlon titles consecutively. It was a banner year in 2009 as she helped Oregon to the first conference title in track and field since 1992. She would also grab a title in the Women’s 4 X 400 meter relay during 2010 and earned the 2010 and 2011 USTFCCCA national Women’s Field Athlete of the Year Award.
With the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Ontario, Theisen-Eaton will have the opportunity to try and win her first international gold medal in front of fellow Canadians. Such a win would surely stand as one of the most cherished in her career.