By PAT GRAHAM
MOSCOW — For their honeymoon, Mr. and Mrs. Eaton went to Russia.
Once there, the first couple of multi-events turned the world championships into The Newlywed Game, complementing their wedding rings with a pair of shiny medals.
Not quite matching, but that hardly mattered to Canada’s Brianne Theisen Eaton, who picked up the silver in the heptathlon Tuesday night.
This after watching her husband of one month, Ashton Eaton, capture decathlon gold two days earlier. Not to mention watching him claim the Olympic title in London.
Finally, it was her turn.
“I’ve always watched him get his medals and think, ‘I wonder what that feels like?’” said Theisen Eaton, who finished 56 points behind winner Ganna Melnichenko of Ukraine. “Now I’m getting a little taste of it.”
Theisen Eaton may be new to medal ceremonies, but Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia is no stranger to success, winning her third world title by holding off Olympic champion Jenn Suhr in front of a raucous crowd. This was Isinbayeva’s last meet for a while — she is taking a break to have a family. And she went out in spectacular fashion, even attempting a world record, only to miss on all three attempts.
It was a solid night for the Americans, too, with LaShawn Merritt and Tony McQuay going 1-2 in the 400 meters. Merritt won back his crown after losing it two years ago in South Korea to Kirani James, who finished seventh.
Nick Symmonds wound up second in the 800, giving the U.S. the highest medal in that event ever at the worlds.
“I tried to run the race just like I envisioned it,” said Symmonds, who was beaten by Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia. “Now, I have the next five days left for sightseeing and celebrations.”
Sounds like a good plan for the Eatons, who went to the University of Oregon together and married on July 13. Since then, they’ve been planning for this big adventure, and what an adventure it’s been. And now, with their medals won, maybe this is the time for some sand and sea.
“The perfect time to go lay on the beach,” Theisen Eaton said. “But if we did that, I’d just shut my eyes and in 10 minutes he would go, ‘How much longer are we going to lay here? Let’s go play volleyball or something.’ He can’t sit around too long.”
He was squirming in the stands, too, trying to encourage his wife to a gold medal. She could hear his motivating words even through the noise of the crowd cheering Isinbayeva.
After the final event, the 800, he took a backseat.
“He said, ‘Good job. Enjoy your victory lap,’” Theisen Eaton said. “He just wanted me to have my moment.”
Soaking up the scene was their coach, Harry Marra. He means so much to the couple they had Marra serve as the pastor at the wedding. They mean so much to him that he couldn’t stop beaming or bragging.
“Two great kids,” Marra said.
Usually, Ashton Eaton is so unflappable. Even when he was setting his world record in the rain last June in Eugene, Ore., he hardly seemed nervous.
Only once has Marra seen Eaton rattled — when he placed the ring on Theisen Eaton’s finger.
“As cool as a cucumber as he is, at that part of the wedding, and he will probably get ticked off I said this … I looked and Ashton was (shaking),” Marra said. “Somebody shoot video because Ashton Eaton is shaking. He never shakes.”
Not even when a javelin thrown by his wife buzzes by his face.
Eaton was training in California four months ago when he went out to collect his two javelins from the throwing area. She was still working with Marra and had one toss left.
Eaton was 50 feet to the left of her when he heard his name being screamed. A flash went right by his right shoulder.
“I was thinking, ‘All right, how are we going to rehab that? I figured it’s going right through his shoulder,” Marra said. “She screamed bloody murder at the top of her lungs.”
It worked. Eaton dodged the javelin but ended up with a scratch on his face.
“He came over and was like, ‘I’m fine,’” Theisen Eaton recounted. “I looked at him and I was like, ‘Did I hit you?’ He’s like, ‘No.’ After, he’s like, ‘I knew it hit me, but I didn’t want you to get worried.’”
Other winners Tuesday included Russia’s Elena Lashmanova (20-kilometer walk), Germany’s Robert Harting (discus) and Kenya’s Milcah Chemos Cheywa (steeplechase).
For a change at the championships, a big crowd filed into the stadium, thanks to Isinbayeva. Usain Bolt may be the biggest attraction everywhere else, but in this city and this stadium, it’s Isinbayeva’s show.
After winning the title, she performed perfect somersaults on the blue track. She gave the audience a performance to remember.
“I had many difficulties, many injuries, and so I am proud of myself that I was able to overcome all these things,” she said.
Earlier in the night, teenager Mary Cain moved on to the final of the 1,500.
To close the evening session, Merritt breezed past the field and through the finish line.
“I was hungry, probably the hungriest person in the field,” said Merritt, who lost his Olympic title to James in London when the American injured his left hamstring. “No, I was starving. It’s been awhile since I was able to perform at my highest level.”