The Olympic decathlon is often considered one of the most grueling and difficult track and field events contested at the Olympic Games. The event, which is held over two days, features men competing in ten track and field events. The decathlon combines sprinting and distance track events with throwing and jumping field events. At the end of the competition, the athlete who as accumulated the most points is declared the winner.
On the first day of competition, decathletes compete in the 100-meter, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400-meter. The second day of competition brings the 110-meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and 1,500-meter. It a decathlete doesn't compete in each event, he is disqualified.
About the Olympic Decathlon Scoring System
In order to score the decathlon, a complex formula system is used. First, the events are divided into two categories, which include running events and jumping and throwing events. From there, one of two formulas is used to determine an athletes overall score in each discipline. The variables used to score each event vary depending on the specific discipline.
After an overall score has been given for each event, the total scores are added together, and the athlete with the highest cumulative score is awarded the gold medal. If two or more athletes are tied, the man who has received higher points in more individual events is given the top spot.
Decathlon High Scores and Records
The current decathlon world record is held by Roman Serble of the Czech Republic. Serble set the record in 2001 with a score of 9,026, and he is the only man to score more than 9,000 points in the event.
Before Serble, American Dan O'Brien held the world record with a total score of 8,891. O'Brien set that record in 1992, and it still stands as an American record today.
Only two men in history have ever repeated as Olympic champions in the decathlon. The first was American Bob Mathias in 1948 and 1952. Daley Thompson of Great Britain accomplished the same feat with his back-to-back wins in 1980 and 1984.
Sandra Johnson is a longtime Olympic fan. While working for the United States Olympic Committee and living in the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Johnson had the opportunity to immerse herself in the Olympic Movement. Follow her on Twitter: @SandraJohnson46.