Track Stars Gun For Gotzis

Santa Barbara–Trained Decathletes and Heptathletes Head to Austria for Hypo Meeting By John Zant, Santa Barbara Independent

Götzis is a quiet alpine village in Austria that makes international news every May as the host of a premier multi-event track-and-field competition called the Hypo Meeting. Just as the most promising racehorses are sent to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby, the highly trained humans known as decathletes and heptathletes converge on Götzis. This year’s meeting is Saturday-Sunday, May 30-31.

Santa Barbara is where Ashton Eaton trained this spring for his first appearance in the Austrian meet. A victory in the decathlon this weekend would be the culmination, rather than the beginning, of his own triple crown — the Oregon native won gold medals at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and the 2013 World Championships in Moscow — and it would also jump-start him toward this summer’s World Championships in Beijing and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Two other athletes who toiled throughout March and April at the Westmont College track are entered in the Götzis heptathlon: Canada’s Brianne Theisen-Eaton, who was runner-up in the 2013 worlds and subsequently topped that by being wed to Eaton, and former UCSB standout Barbara Nwaba, runner-up in last year’s U.S.A. Championships. Although she also won the heptathlon at the Thorpe Cup, a team competition between American and German multi-eventers, this weekend will put Nwaba on a prominent world stage. She hopes it’s a big step toward Rio.

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