Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ashton Eaton mobbed in Bend

Ashton pumped up the crowd in front of the Tower Theatre
"The world's greatest athlete" came back home Sunday to enthusiastically accept the adulation of a proud and grateful town.

Wearing the gold medal he won in London for the decathlon, Ashton Eaton was mobbed by a few thousand Central Oregonians as he paraded down Bond, then Wall Street, in the heart of Bend.

Eaton set the world record in the 10-event decathlon at the Olympic Trials in rainy Eugene in June. He solidified his athletic greatness by winning the gold medal in August.

 It's still astonishing to say that the world's greatest athlete, a bi-racial man, hails from La Pine and Bend.

Ashton nearly won the state track and field title single-handedly for Bend's Mountain View High School in 2006. He won numerous national titles in the decathlon and heptathlon during his years at the University of Oregon.

At the parade today, Ashton's mom, Roz, tearfully thanked the community for its support over the years as she raised Ashton as a single mom, first in La Pine and then, from sixth grade on, in Bend.

Eaton, too, was grateful for the support and spent hours signing autographs after the parade.

Hundreds of kids got to "race" with Ashton up and down Wall Street amid the crush of onlookers.

It was classic small-town America. It was a great day.

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