Brianne Theisen can run the race of her life, and the next day her fiance will perform an almost inconceivable feat of athletic strength and make headlines around the world.
Such is life as one half of a track and field super couple.
The 24-year-old from Humboldt, Sask., will marry American Ashton Eaton on Saturday in Eugene, Ore., the latest chapter in an Olympic-sized love story that began when the two met as teenagers at the University of Oregon.
Eaton is the world-record holder in the decathlon and the London Olympic gold medallist. Theisen won the heptathlon at the prestigious Hypo Meeting this season in Gotzis, Austria, which is considered the unofficial world championships for multi-events.
They are training partners, life partners, and each other’s biggest supporters. Still. . .
“Sometimes it can get a little bit difficult just because Ashton is so good. Sometimes I feel like what I do can get overlooked or just overseen,” Theisen said in a phone interview from her home in Eugene. “I’ll (set a personal record) in a meet, and then the next day he breaks the world record.
“It’s not that I’m mad at him or anything, I get so excited for him. But sometimes that part of it can get a little bit frustrating.”
Despite the odd bit of frustration, theirs is a partnership forged from the time they met during Theisen’s recruiting visit to the University of Oregon, when Eaton was a freshman. The two talked for 15 minutes in the kitchen at a party, a conversation Eaton has described as “the coolest he’s ever had with a girl.”
“I remember thinking ‘This guy’s really cool.’ But I didn’t really remember what he looked like, and I didn’t remember his name.”
The two would meet again at the Pan American junior championships that summer in Brazil.
“My dad was on the (Oregon) visit with me and he had remembered Ashton, and said ‘Oh that Ashton kid, the decathlete that we met at the U of O is going to be at this Pan Am thing in Brazil,“’ Theisen said. “I remember thinking, there were so many decathletes, I can’t picture which one it is, I didn’t know his name. But as soon as I saw him in Brazil, it was ‘Oh, he’s the kid I was talking to in the kitchen.’
“It was kind of funny how it worked out, because normally you see someone, and you think ‘Oh they’re really good looking.’ This time was different, it was more like I grew to like him because of the connection we had. Also because I thought he was really good looking too. But it started with just having a lot in common and being able to relate to each other. That really drew me to him.”
Their friendship continued from the day Theisen moved to Eugene. They went on their first official date on Valentines Day of Theisen’s rookie season. The two who were named one of “Shape” magazine’s “10 Hottest Fit Couples” got engaged in 2011. They knew that 2012 — with the London Olympics — would be too crazy, so planned the wedding for 2013.
Their plans almost took a tragic turn a couple of months ago when Theisen nearly speared her fiance with a javelin. The two were practising with coach Larry Mara. Eaton had walked out to retrieve his javelin while Theisen was still throwing. Her toss took a wild turn to the left, Eaton made like Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix” and bent his body out of harm’s way, the eight-foot metal missile grazing his upper lip.
“It was a freaky thing,” Mara said. “I shouldn’t have allowed that, he shouldn’t have been there, and Brianne shouldn’t have thrown. It was a three-way strikeout, luckily he ducked.
“He’s such a great athlete, that probably showed his athleticism more than the world record did, because it was bee-lining right for him and he ducked.”