BEND, Ore. -

By now, you've probably heard his name or seen it plastered all over national magazines. Bend's Ashton Eaton, the world record-holder in what many consider sport's toughest challenge: the decathlon.

He's the U.S.champion of 10 grueling events, with a record mark that has earned him the title: world's greatest athlete. Now, he's on his way to London to defend that crown and seek Olympic gold.

But ask his mom, Roslyn, and she'll tell you she's not that surprised.

"When he was just learning how to walk, and he would pull himself up on the coffee table, he put as much effort into that as he did that 1,500-meter (race)," Roslyn said recently.

Ashton James Eaton was born in Portland, Oregon on Jan. 21, 1988. Two years later, Roslyn found herself a single mom, struggling but never swaying.

"I think you have to really stick to your guns and make sure you don't get swayed, and know what your direction is and know what you want for your child," she said. "That's what I tried to do, anyway,"

When he was in first grade, Roslyn and Ashton packed up and moved to La Pine, and that's where his love for competing started.

"He was just naturally always doing something active and always pushing his own limits from the very beginning," she said.

Limits that stretched beyond the track. In fact, if you asked the 5-year-old Ashton what he wanted to be, it had nothing to do with a track.

"He wanted to be Donatello -- he wanted to be a Ninja Turtle, the purple one."

That turned into taekwondo classes and later, a black belt at 13 years old. But it still came back to Ashton's desire and unique skill when he laced up those tennis shoes.

"Fifth grade was his first debut into trackdom at La Pine Elementar,y and I watched him cross his first finish line in his first 100 meters -- first 100-meter dash in sideways sleet," Roslyn remembered.

By the time middle school rolled around, Roslyn decided it was time to move to Bend.

"I worked in Sunriver and driving -- it would take me 45 minutes to drive from Sunriver to La Pine," she said. "And just knowing that Ashton was getting more active, we decided to move."

Once Ashton got to Bend's Mountain View High School, he tried wrestling and football, as well as keeping up with track. But his mom says he quickly learned that only one of those was his true calling.

"I think that track chose him," she said. "And not necessarily because he loved it right away, but because it was intriguing to him. The more information he got, and the more he was able to accomplish, that became something he wanted to find out more about."

Coached by Tate Metcalf and John Nosler, Ashton went on to become one of the state's best 400-meter runners and long jumpers. Before she knew it, Roslyn was picking Ashton up from the University of Oregon after being scouted by the track and field coach.

"It was when he stepped on the track and I picked him up two days later and he had a big smile on his face and he said, 'I'm home,'" she recalled. "And that's when he knew, and that's when I knew it was right."

But what neither of them truly expected was after four years of intense training, breaking personal records, and becoming the best in the NCAA at the age of 24, he would shine on America's biggest track and field stage: the U.S. Olympic Trials this spring in Eugene, where he broke the world record in the decathlon and earned the title of the world's best athlete.

And the scene at the finish line, where Ashton tearfully hugged his mom and fiancee, then waved an American flag to the cheering crowed, said it all.

"He did it. He really did it, and I knew how hard he wanted to do this and he did it," Roslyn said. "All the things that he's gone through and all the sacrifice -- it may look glamorous, but he doesn't get to hang out with his friends, and he doesn't get to stay up late or go surfing or skateboard with his friends.

"There are just things that any athlete at this level has to sacrifice, and it's just his character. So to me, when he crossed that finish line, that was just a very magical moment."

Rosyln leaves for London this weekend to watch her son, the bolt from Bend, and the world's greatest athlete compete, for the gold medal. Fighting back tears of emotion, she says she only has one message for him before he hits the track.

"I believe you can fly, Ashton. And no matter what, he is golden to me."

On Tuesday night, we hear from his former coach at Mountain View, and she's going to show off a piece of track and field history Ashton left behind in Bend. That story and much more Tuesday night at 6:00 p.m.