The decathlon is a combined event in athletics consisting of ten track and field events. The word decathlon is of Greek origin, from δέκα (déka, meaning "ten") and ἄθλος (áthlos, or ἄθλον, áthlon, meaning "feat"). Events are held over two consecutive days and the winners are determined by the combined performance in all. Performance is judged on a points system in each event, not by the position achieved. The decathlon is contested mainly by male athletes, while female athletes typically compete in the heptathlon.
Traditionally, the title of "World's Greatest Athlete" has been given to the man who wins the Olympic decathlon. This began when King Gustav V of Sweden told Jim Thorpe, "You, sir, are the world's greatest athlete" after Thorpe won the decathlon at the Stockholm Olympics in 1912. The current decathlon world record holder is American Ashton Eaton, who scored 9,039 points at the 2012 United States Olympic Trials.
The event developed from the ancient pentathlon. Pentathlon competitions were held at the ancient Greek Olympics. Pentathlons involved five disciplines – long jump, discus throw, javelin throw, sprint and a wrestling match. Introduced in Olympia during 708 BC, the competition was extremely popular for many centuries. By the 6th century BC, pentathlons had become part of religious games. The Amateur Athletic Union held "all around events" from the 1880s and a decathlon first appeared on the Olympic athletics program at the 1904 Games.
The vast majority of international and top level men's decathlons are divided into a two-day competition, with the track and field events held in the order below. Traditionally, all decathletes who finished the event do a round of honour together after the competition, rather than just the winner or medalling athletes.
At major championships, the women's equivalent of the decathlon is the seven-event heptathlon; prior to 1981 it was the five-event pentathlon. However, in 2001 the IAAF approved scoring tables for women's decathlon; the current world record holder is Austra Skujytė of Lithuania. Women's disciplines differ from men's in the same way as for standalone events: the shot, discus and javelin weigh less, and the sprint hurdles uses lower hurdles over 100 m rather than 110 m. The points tables used are the same as for the heptathlon in the shared events. The schedule of events differs from the men's decathlon, with the field events switched between day one and day two; this is to avoid scheduling conflicts when men's and women's decathlon competitions take place simultaneously.
The one hour decathlon is a special type of decathlon in which the athletes have to start the last of ten events (1500 m) within sixty minutes after the start of the first event. The world record holder is a Czech decathlete Robert Změlík, who achieved 7897 points at a meeting in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia, in 1992.
|110 m hurdles||5.74352||28.5||1.92|
The 2001 IAAF points tables use the following formulae:
- Points = INT(A(B — P)C) for track events (faster time produces a better score)
- Points = INT(A(P — B)C) for field events (greater distance or height produces a better score)
A, B and C are parameters that vary by discipline, as shown in the table on the right, while P is the performance by the athlete, measured in seconds (running), metres (throwing), or centimetres (jumping).
The decathlon tables should not be confused with the scoring tables compiled by Bojidar Spiriev, to allow comparison of the relative quality of performances by athletes in different events. On those tables, for example, a decathlon score of 9,006 points equates to 1,265 "comparison points", the same number as a triple jump of 18 m.
Split evenly between the events, the following table shows the benchmark levels needed to earn 1000, 900, 800 and 700 points in each sport.
|Event||1,000 pts||900 pts||800 pts||700 pts||Units|
|110 m hurdles||13.8||14.59||15.419||16.29||Seconds|
|World||9,039||Ashton Eaton (USA)||2012|
|World junior||8,397||Torsten Voss (GDR)||1982|
|Africa||8,343||Willem Coertzen (RSA)||2013|
|Asia||8,725||Dmitriy Karpov (KAZ)||2004|
|Europe||9,026||Roman Šebrle (CZE)||2001|
|North, Central America
|9,039||Ashton Eaton (USA)||2012|
|Oceania||8,490||Jagan Hames (AUS)||1998|
|South America||8,291||Tito Steiner (ARG)||1983|
The total decathlon score for all world records in the respective events would be 12,553. The total decathlon score for all the best performances achieved during decathlons is 10,506. The Difference column shows the difference in points between the decathlon points that the individual current world record would be awarded and the points awarded to the current decathlon record for that event. The % Difference column shows the percentage difference between the time, distance or height of the individual world record and the decathlon record (other than the Total entry, which shows the percentage difference between awarded decathlon points). The relative differences in points are much higher in throwing events than in running and jumping events.
Decathlon bests are only recognised when an athlete completes the ten-event competition with a score over 7000 points.
|WR||Usain Bolt (JAM)||9.58 s||1,202||158||6.58||2009-08-16||Berlin|
|DB||Ashton Eaton (USA)||10.21 s||1,044||2012-06-22||Eugene|||
|WR||Mike Powell (USA)||8.95 m||1,312||192||8.04||1991-08-30||Tokyo|
|DB||Ashton Eaton (USA)||8.23 m||1,120||2012-06-22||Eugene|||
|WR||Randy Barnes (USA)||23.12 m||1,295||247||17.08||1990-05-20||Westwood|
|DB||Edy Hubacher (SUI)||19.17 m||1,048||1969-10-05||Bern|
|WR||Javier Sotomayor (CUB)||2.45 m||1,244||183||7.35||1993-07-27||Salamanca|
|DB|| Rolf Beilschmidt (GDR) &
Christian Schenk (GDR)
|2.27 m||1,061||1977-10-01 1988-09-28||Jena
|WR||Michael Johnson (USA)||43.18 s||1,156||131||5.79||1999-08-26||Seville|
|DB||Bill Toomey (USA)||45.68 s||1,025||1968-10-18||Mexico City|
|110 m hurdles|
|WR||Aries Merritt (USA)||12.80 s||1,135||91||4.66||2012-09-07||Brussels|
|DB||Ashton Eaton (USA)||13.35 s||1,060||2011-06-04||Eugene|
|WR||Jürgen Schult (GDR)||74.08 m||1,383||390||24.58||1986-06-06||Neubrandenburg|
|DB||Bryan Clay (USA)||55.87 m||993||2005-06-24||Carson|
|WR||Sergey Bubka (UKR)||6.14 m||1,277||125||6.19||1994-07-31||Sestriere|
|DB||Tim Lobinger (GER)||5.76 m||1,152||1999-09-16||Leverkusen|
|WR||Jan Železný (CZE)||98.48 m||1,331||291||18.80||1996-05-25||Jena|
|DB||Peter Blank (FRG)||79.80 m||1,040||1992-07-19||Emmelshausen|
|WR||Hicham El Guerrouj (MAR)||3 m 26.00 s||1,218||255||15.87||1998-07-14||Rome|
|DB||Robert Baker (USA)||3 m 58.70 s||963||1980-04-03||Austin|
- As of August 2013.
Other multiple event contests
- Modern pentathlon
- Icosathlon or double decathlon
- "Decathlon". Encarta. 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. Retrieved 2008-08-06.
- World's Greatest Athlete
- Waldo E. Sweet, Erich Segal (1987). Sport and recreation in ancient Greece. Oxford University Press. (p37). Retrieved on 2011-05-07.
- IAAF Scoring Tables for Combined Events, p. 7.
- IAAF Scoring Tables for Combined Events, p. 9.
- "Decathlon Records". IAAF. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
- IAAF Scoring Tables for Combined Events, p. 10.
- Decathlon Records. DECA - The Decathlon Associatiiton. Retrieved on 2007-10-23.
- IAAF Scoring Tables for Combined Events, p. 24.
- IAAF Scoring Tables of Athletics - Outdoor - 2008 Edition p. 154.
- "Decathlon Results". USATF. 23 June 2012. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
- van Kuijen, Hans (2013-09-12). Eaton and Melnychenko lead Talence fields, Lavillenie to make Decathlon debut – IAAF Combined Events Challenge. IAAF. Retrieved on 2013-09-12.
- "U.S. Olympic trials: Ashton Eaton has record-setting Day 1 in decathlon". www.oregonlive.com. 22 June 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
- "Ashton Eaton Breaks Decathlon 100m and Long Jump World Records". www.oregonlive.com. 22 June 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
- "Hypo-Meeting 2012 Men's Results". IAAF. 27 May 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
- "Decathlon Results". IAAF. 11 August 2013. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
- "Decathlon Results". IAAF. 15 June 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
- "Decathlon Results". CBAt. 30 June 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
- "Decathlon Results". www.flashresults.com. 20 April 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Decathlon.|
- Team Decathlon website
- A downloadable Excel spreadsheet of multi-event scoring and age grading is available from the creator, Stefan Waltermann