An athletic competition
consisting of ten events. The modern
decathlon is a two day affair with slightly different rules than normal track and field events. For instance, runners are allowed three false starts
instead of two, and the maximum
tail wind allowed for records is 4 meters per second instead of 2. As of now, only men compete in the decathlon (women compete in the heptathlon
). The events in the modern decathlon:
100 meter run
400 meter run
110 meter hurdles
1500 meter run
The bizarre scoring of the decathlon relies on a series of tables to convert times and distances into points. Placing in an event doesn't matter - decathletes compete against a scoring table. For example, running the 100 meter dash in ten seconds is worth 1096 points, and a high jump of 2.39 meters is worth 1182 points. By converting to points, a tally can be made for the ten events and a winner can be declared.
Due to the extreme difficulty of winning a decathlon, the Olympic champion is generally referred to as "World's Greatest Athlete".
Czech Roman Šebrle hold the current world record for the decathlon with 9,026 points. Daley Thompson of Great Britain and American Bob Mathias are the only two-time gold medalists in the Olympic decathlon.
Olympic Decathlon Champions
Year Name Points
1904 Thomas Kiely, Ireland 6036
1912 Jim Thorpe, United States 8412
1920 Helge Lövland, Norway 6803
1924 Harold Osborn, United States 7711
1928 Paavo Yrjölä, Finland 8053
1932 Jim Bausch, United States 8462
1936 Glenn Morris, United States 7900
1948 Bob Mathias, United States 7139
1952 Bob Mathias, United States 7887
1956 Milt Campbell, United States 7937
1960 Rafer Johnson, United States 8392
1964 Willi Holdorf, Germany 7887
1968 Bill Toomey, United States 8193
1972 Nikolai Avilov, Soviet Union 8454
1976 Bruce Jenner, United States 8617
1980 Daley Thompson, Great Britain 8495
1984 Daley Thompson, Great Britain 8798
1988 Christian Schenk, East Germany 8488
1992 Robert Zmelik, Czechoslovakia 8611
1996 Dan O'Brien, United States 8824
2000 Erki Nool, Estonia 8641
2004 Roman Šebrle, Czech Republic 8893
2008 Bryan Clay, United States 8791
Decathlon is also an aptly titled game by Activision for the Atari 2600. Up to four players compete in the ten events of the decathlon. Running was done by whipping the joystick rapidly back and forth, and jumping was performed with the button. If you scored enough points, and sent a Polaroid of your final score to Activision, they sent you back a medal. Of course, you probably also got open cuts on your palms from joystick abrasion.
If you've still got an Atari and copy of Decathlon, you can try out this trick... In the pole vault event, after you let go of the pole, continue tapping the button. Your little decathlete will ascend much higher than he normally would, enabling you to rack up huge points.