Canadian Brianne Theisen-Eaton knew she needed more than a 10-second margin over Anastasiya Mokhnyuk in the final 800-meter event to win the pentathlon gold medal at the world indoor track and field championships.
With 150 metres left in the race Friday night, she heard her husband – decathlon world-record holder Ashton Eaton – cheering: “You can win! You can win!”
That pushed Theisen-Eaton to the finish line in 2:09.99. Several tense moments passed while the points were tallied, and the 27-year-old finished with 4,881 – a new Canadian record.
Mokhnyuk had the lead going into the 800. The Ukrainian, who had the world lead in the pentathlon this year, surged into the lead after a personal best long jump of 21 feet, 10 1/4 inches.
Fellow Ukrainian Alina Fodorova, the bronze medallist in the 2014 world indoors, was in second before the final event. Theisen-Eaton was third
But Mokhnyuk finished 11th in the 800 to fall to second in the multi-sport event with 4,847 points, and Fodorova was third with 4,770.
Even though she represents Canada, Theisen-Eaton, from Humboldt, was the crowd favourite from her days at the University of Oregon. It was in Eugene that she met her husband, who is a Portland native.
“The gold medal is great, but I’m most proud of myself for executing this competition, mentally, the way that we’d planned,” she said afterward, draped by the Canadian flag.
Next up is a bid for her second Olympic team. She finished 11th at the London Games.