Ashton Eaton is one of the biggest track and field stars of all time. He's the reigning decathlon Olympic champion and owns the indoor heptathlon and decathlon world records. Find out what Ashton's motivations have been throughout his career:
What was your motivation as a high school athlete?
My motivation came from three things; one was a desire to impress my coaches, one was a general curiosity about athletic movement, and one was I would see some sort of outside stimulus and then try and replicate it. For example, I used to watch a lot of Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers, so I did martial arts because I thought the foot movements and kicks were awesome. I also remember watching the Carl Lewis vs. Mike Powell duel and after that was over I went outside and started jumping off of stuff and doing the scissor kick like they were doing.
What was your motivation as a University of Oregon athlete?
It was actually the same things as in high school, but more so wanting to impress the coaches. When they told me to do something I prided myself on doing it the very next attempt. So I was able to make changes very quickly. Within one or two tries. The more I did that, the more stuff that they told me to do and the better I got.
What is your motivation now that you’re a world record holder and Olympic gold medalist?
So now the motivation is more on the lines of that curiosity aspect. I know there’s less and less my coach can tell me that’s going to make a big improvement, so it’s more about seeing what my physical limitations are. I go and do a long jump and jump 26 whatever, so I wonder, can I jump farther than that?
Are you more motivated when you're struggling or doing well?
I’m more motivated by the struggles. Sometime I can get very frustrated because the concepts can be so simple. My coach will say 'here’s a technique and you use it to throw far.' But sometimes my body or mind just won’t do it. That’s when I get super frustrated and annoyed with myself and think why can’t you just do this? Sometimes that can come in the form of negative motivation and sometimes that’s positive motivation.
Where do you find the motivation to learn the technical aspects of your events?
It’s definitely a process. At first I relied almost solely on outside support because I didn’t know what I was doing. That was the coach, the recovery staff, and other athletes in my training group. But with every year that went by I would learn more, and as I understood something for myself I would rely less on outside support. So over time the less and less outside support I needed and more I relied on the things I knew about my body, myself and what techniques work for me.
What motivated you to try the 400m hurdles last season?
The main reason was to get away from the decathlon mentally while still being consistent in training. We had to choose something that I could be competitive in on the circuit because I still had to compete contractually and wanted to compete. It was good because the byproduct was becoming a better athlete and I learned some things that I can take to the multi-events. You think you know everything when you’ve done the same things for 7 years. So it was good to have something new and remind myself that I can still learn and get better.
Ashton will be feataured in a stacked 60m hurdle feild at the 108th NYRR Millrose Games on Saturday, February 14th. The race will be one of the highlights of the 2015 indoor season and will include Olympic and World Championship medalists, Jason Richardson and David Oliver.