Bend crowd cheers Ashton Eaton's run to gold
Bend's Tower Theatre has hosted many special events over the years, but never one quite like this -- a packed crowd watching a hometown favorite, one of their own, run for Olympic gold -- and succeed.
"Are you ready to cheer on Ashton?" And they cheered.
Hundreds filled the hall, eyes glued to the screen, not a seat left in the room. The packed house could not take their their eyes off the screen, of an historic moment in the making.
The fans and friends in the theater were decked out in sea of colors: The yellow and green of Ashton's Oregon Ducks, the Red White and Blue of the USA (of course) and the red and black for Eaton's alma mater, the Mountain View Cougars.
But there was one color on everyone's mind: Gold
"Go Ashton!" said young and old, the spirit was all the same, everyone cheering on the local boy who made it big on the world's biggest stage
There were former coaches, like Mountain View High School Athletic Director Dave Hood.
"It's an unbelievable, emotional roller-coaster," he said.
Theater House Manager Yoleen Faerber said, "It's so wonderful to have a hometown boy -- world record-holder, going for the gold -- it's the best! It's the best."
The fans watched the last two events unfold live in NBC's live-streaming feed from London, becoming a rowdy crowd of Central Oregonians, watching one of their own shine.
And as Ashton crossed the finish line in his 10th and final event, the 1,500 meters, coming to an end, the crowd exploded.
His former Mountain View coach, Tate Metcalf, went to London, thanks to locals who helped pay for the trip, and was cheering from the 200th row of Olympic Stadium.
"Then Ashton saw me and then he just went into about a 20-meter sprint, came flying on over, jumped in the air, huge hugs, and he was just so incredibly excited.
The road to gold started in Bend and ended in London. But his new journey, as the world's greatest athlete, was only beginning.
"To see somebody with such a pure and humble personality, really just bring home the gold in that fashion, it was wonderful."
Eaton's coaches and other community members are organizing some sort of parade through downtown Bend for Ashton's homecoming.
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