SPIKES talks exclusively to the world’s most talented track and field super couple to find out what it’s like living as Mr and Mrs Eaton.*
Do you talk about athletics much at home?
Ashton: “It depends on the time of year. Right now we are not talking any track. During the track season we will, and the talk will be a bunch of complaining [laughs]…”
Brianne: “It depends on our mood. If one of us has a good day, we’ll be excited for the next practise, so sometimes we’ll look up YouTube videos and try to get a feel of the events.
"Sometimes we’ll have a bad day, talk about it and help each other but sometimes we are in the mood not to talk track.”
Are you both competitive?
Brianne: “To be honest, when we compete at something, Ashton just gives in because he knows I’ll fight to the end. Even in an argument I won’t give up and he’ll say: ‘okay, you’re right’.”
Ashton: “I agree. She’s very stubborn and strongly opinionated so sometimes it is hard to convince her otherwise. So [if I am going to argue back], you need a solid proof of facts. Brianne is so smart, if you don’t have the right answer, then…”
Brianne: “We do get competitive over really dumb things.”
Ashton: “Like what?”
Brianne: “We both really like coffee, and we have three different coffee machines at home. We have an espresso machine, and we’ll compete as to who makes the better coffee. Sometimes we play Mario Kart video games, and that sometimes gets intense.”
Who makes the best coffee and who wins on Mario Kart?
Ashton: “Brianne is a good recipe follower, but I add more sugar to it! She kills me at Mario Kart…”
Who’s the worst loser?
Brianne: “I am.”
Ashton: “Yes, she probably is.”
Brianne: “I am a bad loser… little dumb things that don’t matter. Sometimes I’ve just got to walk away. I won’t talk for a couple of hours because I’m a little upset.”
Ashton and Brianne during the heptathlon competition (after the decathlon) at Moscow 2013
What is the best part of being married to an elite athlete?
Ashton: “The best part is the travelling together. If Brianne competed for Canada and I worked in an office, we would have to combine our incomes to travel to be able to send me to the places she goes.
"We get to travel together and do the same things. Another perk is we really understand what each other does. She got silver at the world championships, and got to do a victory lap in front of the fans.
"I know how awesome that feeling is, and it is cool to be able to share those feelings. Another cool part is, during the Olympics, all I had to do to see her was to walk over to the block where the Canadian team were staying. If she wasn’t an Olympian, there is no way I’d be able to do that."
Is there a downside?
Brianne: “The biggest downside, not that it is a really big one, is we don’t get a lot of time apart. We train together, come home together and eat dinner together. We are together all the time.
"Sometimes we feel we need our own space and to do our own thing. Sometimes we are that couple who go out for dinner, and because we are so exhausted we are texting on our phones doing our own thing.
"I often think people must look at us and think, what are you guys doing? Sometimes we’ve been together the entire day: there is nothing to talk about!"
Who’s the messy one around the house?
Brianne: “Leaving clothes laying around in the bedroom it is definitely me. Ashton will sometimes say, ‘sorry there is a disaster upstairs.’ I’ll go upstairs and there is like a little pile of clothes in the corner of the room.
"I say, ‘gee is that all?’ I’m lucky I married him, because if that is what he calls a tornado, that’s pretty good. When I come home from a trip and unpack, I will leave my clothes sitting on the floor for maybe three days."
Ashton: “I like to do laundry every Sunday, but Bri can wait for weeks without doing laundry.”
What is their most annoying habit?
Brianne: “We might learn something new about each other, now…”
Ashton: “Hmm, there are too many things I can’t even think [laugh].”
Brianne: “I’m nuts at wiping the counter. I like a crumb-clean counter. When I get to the kitchen and the counter has crumbs on it, it drives me nuts. I know I always wipe it, so I know it is not me!”
Ashton: “She has this face wash which bleaches all of our towels. All of a sudden they’ll be bleach marks all over them. Sometime she forgets and wipes her hand on the towel. We have all these new wedding towels that are bleached.”
He’s either just broken the decathlon world record, or his towels have been bleached by Brianne’s face wash. Can’t work out which.
How has being married to an elite level athlete helped you to perform?
Brianne: “By living with another athlete, we hold each other accountable a bit more. I’m really bad at stretching at night to the point that sometimes Ashton shuts the TV off and is like: ‘Bri, let’s sit here and stretch for 15mins.’ Ashton getting on my case has been helpful.”
Ashton: “There’s a lot of benefits living with Bri. She has an incredible ability to stick to a plan for an extended period of time. A lot of people talk about diets and it will last for three weeks, but she cooks these amazing meals [lasagne and risotto are two of his favourites] during our training cycle and she is super-motivated to do that.
"I also get cabin fever [and want to get out of the house], but Bri will say: ‘that’s not conducive to our training or performance’."
Brianne, you have spoken in the past about the frustration of living with someone who breaks records for fun. Has winning world silver changed that?
Brianne: I wouldn’t say when he won I would be frustrated. It would be more, people would say to Ashton: ‘you did a great job at the Olympics, and who are you?’
"Now people recognise both of us. Of course, when Ashton is out there breaking the world record, I’m cheering in the stands. It is very exciting."
What is the worst thing about being married?
Ashton: “The worst thing is the wedding ring. I fiddle with it, turn it around and I play with it. I like to put it on my pinkie on my right hand because it fits. I don’t normally wear jewellery, but even when I wear a watch it has to be on my right hand. I feel more balanced that way.
"Having said that, during the World Championships in Moscow I ran my fastest ever 400m in a decathlon. I could feel the ring was balanced on my finger and I was thinking: Brianne will be cheering for me, I should run harder for her. It did end up working out."
Brianne: “The worst thing about being married to Ash is that he misplaces a lot of stuff, daily. We couldn’t check the mail for some time because four mail keys had all gone missing within two weeks.”
Ashton has a reputation of being good at lots of sports. Aside from Mario Kart, what else is Brianne better at?
Ashton: “Volleyball and ice hockey. Oh, my god, she can skate rings around me.”
*World decathlon gold medallist and world record holder Ashton Eaton of USA and his Canadian wife Brianne Theisen Eaton, the world heptathlon silver medallist, married this year and live in Orgeon, USA.