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Decathlete Ashton Eaton was willing to run himself 'into the hospital' to win gold

Ashton Eaton discusses the journey to earning his second consecutive Olympic gold medal in the decathlon.
/ Source: TODAY

Ashton Eaton, unofficially dubbed the world's greatest athlete, said he was willing to leave everything he had on the track to win his second consecutive Olympic gold medal in the decathlon.

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Eaton told Matt Lauer he normally feels nervous before the 1,500-meter run, which was his final event out of all 10, but said he felt determined to run himself "into the hospital" if necessary to secure gold.

Ashton Eaton was all smiles the morning after striking gold.TODAY

Decathlon involves a system that awards points for each individual event, which includes long jump, shot put, javelin throw, discuss, and the 100-meter hurdles. Eaton held a solid lead throughout but the color of his medal came down to the final event, the 1,500-meter run.

"I was actually in a cold shower beforehand thinking, 'Are you going to step up and do this, Ashton?' And I made a pact with myself and said, yeah, if I have to go to the hospital to run that hard, I’ll do it," he said Friday on TODAY.

Eaton finished the run with a hug from his wife, women’s heptathlon bronze medalist Brianne Theisen-Eaton of Canada.

Brianne Theisen-Eaton of Canada with her husband, Ashton Eaton.TODAY

Earlier during the Games, Eaton had taken heat on social media for showing his support for his wife by wearing a Canadian team cap. Eaton fought back against this critics, asking them, "Have I not represented USA well?" and scolding them for trying to shame him.

"I got inspiration from her," he said. He noted how his wife came in a disappointing 11th at the Summer Games four years ago but was determined to medal the next time around.

"She said 'I'm not doing this to be 11th anymore. I want to be on the podium,' and to see that transition and have her make that dream a reality was powerful," he said.

Asked if both would return for the 2020 Games in Tokyo, both laughed.

"We have no idea," Theisen-Eaton said.

Her husband added: "We can say that we absolutely enjoyed everything until now, but past that?"