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Ashton Eaton to Focus on 400m Hurdles in 2014

Published by
RunnerSpace.com/Pro   on Oct 18 2013, 09:41 PM

 

By Doug Binder, DyeStat Editor

Ashton Eaton is already the best in the world in the decathlon. So in 2014, with no global championship on the calendar, the world-record holder is going to test himself and explore the 400-meter hurdles. 
Eaton, already Olympic and world champion, is automatically qualified to compete in the decathlon at the World Championships in Beijing in 2015. Until then, his coach, Harry Marra, figures it's OK to have a little fun. After some time off, Eaton will jump back into multi training to prepare for the World Indoor Championships. But come next spring, things will change.
"He can train like a good 'ol track athlete," Marra said. "(Ashton) brought it up to be before I brought it up to him. He likes to run the quarter. He's a good hurdler. It makes sense from the standpoint of training as a 400 hurdler in order to make him better at the 400 meters and the 1,500 meters."
Eaton owns personal bests of 45.64 seconds in the 400 meters and 13.35 in the 110 hurdles. How fast will he be able to go? Can he make the U.S. Championships final?
"I don't make predictions, but I think he could be very elite," Marra said.
Training as a 400-meter hurdler constitutes a change, but it is all part of a big-picture vision to make him better overall at the decathlon. He will also pick and choose his spots to attack the 110 hurdles, the long jump, the pole vault  and the 100 meters. And yes, he will also continue to make gains in the throwing events. But in switching out of 10-event training, Marra hopes Eaton can escape the day to day grind and sink his teeth into something new.
"The mental aspect of a sport like track and field is just as important at the physical," said Marra, who also coaches Ashton's wife, world silver medalist Brianne Theisen-Eaton.
"Banging out the same stuff for four years, if we banged it out against this year real hard, you're going to get fried," Marra said. "It's a fun year but also a serious year. Let's push the envelope in the 400. Let's get after some stuff."
And the results may only confirm the top decathletes' claim of "world's greatest athlete."
"Maybe if he does do really well in this, people will take even more notice and his decathlon (accomplishments) will get even more respect," Marra said.
Theisen-Eaton, on the other hand, does have a heptahlon to focus on in 2014. Because she is Canadian, the Commonwealth Games are on her radar. Potentially, that could mean a contest against 2012 Olympic champion Jessica Ennis. 
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