Olympic Power Couple Loyal to Two Nations

    Olympic hopefuls American Ashton Eaton and Canadian Brianne Theisen are hoping to compete for gold for their respective countries, but have already won the affection of one another. Photos by Erik van Leeuwen/ Wikimedia Commons and Tom Banse.Olympic hopefuls American Ashton Eaton and Canadian Brianne Theisen are hoping to compete for gold for their respective countries, but have already won the affection of one another. Photos by Erik van Leeuwen/ Wikimedia Commons and Tom Banse.
    x
    Olympic hopefuls American Ashton Eaton and Canadian Brianne Theisen are hoping to compete for gold for their respective countries, but have already won the affection of one another. Photos by Erik van Leeuwen/ Wikimedia Commons and Tom Banse.
    Olympic hopefuls American Ashton Eaton and Canadian Brianne Theisen are hoping to compete for gold for their respective countries, but have already won the affection of one another. Photos by Erik van Leeuwen/ Wikimedia Commons and Tom Banse.
    Tom Banse
    EUGENE, Oregon -- Countries around the world are holding Olympic team trials this month to select the athletes who will wear the national colors at the 2012 Summer Games in London. In Jamaica, Friday night, the world's fastest man, Usain Bolt, attempts to qualify for his second Olympics. In the USA this week, one of the biggest stars of the Beijing Games, swimmer Michael Phelps, is competing against a host of rising challengers. In Canada and the U.S., Olympic trials for track and field are also underway. That qualifying action could determine whether the London Games feature a love story.

    By tradition, the Olympic decathlon champion assumes the title of the "world's greatest athlete." Those are big shoes to fill. But this month, a 24-year-old from the U.S. state of Oregon installed himself as the gold medal favorite.

    The U.S. Olympic Team Trials coincidentally took place on Ashton Eaton's home field in Eugene, Oregon. The fans were behind him from the beginning of the 10-event competition. Eaton started off strong by setting new decathlon records for the 100 meter dash and long jump.

    Then the decathlon moved into more difficult events, the shot put and high jump. The first day finished with the 400-meter sprint. Day two started with the high hurdles.

    And then in quick succession: discus and pole vault, where Eaton set a new personal best. He stopped to consult his coach before the final events, the javelin throw and the 1,500-meter race.

    Olympic Power Couple Loyal to Two Countries
    Olympic Power Couple Loyal to Two Countriesi
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    "I look at him and I go, 'Alright, what do I have to throw and what do I have to run to get the American record?' He stopped and looked at me, 'No, Ashton, the world record.' At that moment I saw his belief in me and I was like, 'Let's go do it then,'" Eaton said.

    And he did. Ashton Eaton set a new world record in the decathlon as he qualified for Team USA.

    But Eaton is not the only one in his household with Olympic dreams. This week, his fiancée, Brianne Theisen, attempts to qualify for the Summer Games in the heptathlon, a seven-event endurance fest. Theisen was a three-time collegiate heptathlon champion at the University of Oregon, which is where the couple met.

    However, there's a twist. Theisen won't compete for an Olympic slot on her home field in Eugene. She's in Calgary for the Canadian Olympic Trials. That’s because Theisen grew up on the plains of Saskatchewan and retains Canadian citizenship. She figures Canadian fans won't hold it against her if they see her cheering in London for her American fiancée.

    "A lot of them also went to NCAA schools and have friends in the U.S. So I think, you know, they understand," Theisen said.

    Ashton Eaton doesn't foresee any problems with divided loyalties in the relationship either.

    "Yeah, she's Canadian and yeah, I'm going to be for the U.S. team. But if everything goes well and she has the opportunity to hold up the Canadian flag, I'm going to be freaking out. The whole experience is cool. It has nothing to do with countries; it's just an event," Eaton added.

    Eaton and Theisen say if there's a neutral zone in the athlete's village in London, they'll find it.

    Finding time for a proper wedding is also a challenge, but not of quite Olympic proportions. They've put off getting married until July of 2013.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora