Photo credit: Kirby Lee
Decathletes are always considered all-around athletes, but five-time NCAA Champion Ashton Eaton has been named winner of the Jim Thorpe All-Around Award by the United States Sports Academy because of his accomplishments in the decathlon and heptathlon.
The decathlon is the track and field competition that combines 10 events, and the heptathlon is a combination of seven events and involves male competitors in indoor track meets and female athletes in outdoor meets.
Eaton set a new world record for points when he won his second straight national heptathlon title at NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas on March 13. He surpassed then-University of Idaho student Dan O’Brien, who won the gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and three consecutive world titles in the decathlon. Ashton, a senior at Oregon at the time, acquired a total score of 6,499 points in the heptathlon, passing O’Brien’s 6,476 points.
Eaton capped his illustrious career at Oregon in June by becoming the first athlete to win three consecutive NCAA championships in the decathlon.
The two-time United States Track & Field and Cross Country Association Athlete of the Year (both indoor and outdoor) has also won five Pac-10 Conference championships: three in the decathlon, one in the 110-meter hurdles and one in the long jump.
The Jim Thorpe All-Around Award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in multiple sports and/or multiple events of the same sport. This individual should exhibit the qualities of versatility, strength, speed, flexibility, conditioning and training that exemplify superior athletic prowess.
Past winners of the Thorpe All-Around Award include Deion Sanders, Herschel Walker, Willie Gault, Danny Ainge, Julius Peppers and Brian Clay.