The decathlon, with its current list of events, has been a part of the Summer Olympics since 1912. The best decathletes from the U.S. have been the most successful over the past century by winning gold a very impressive 13 times.
The following list includes brief looks at each of the American Olympic decathlon champions:
Jim Thorpe: Thorpe, a great athlete in many sports in the early 20th century, was the winner of the decathlon at the Stockholm Games in 1912. Displaying a tremendous blend of speed, strength, and endurance, he dominated the competition and won the points total by a wide margin over the other podium finishers.
Thorpe's golds in the decathlon and pentathlon were taken from him after it was revealed that he had been paid to play semi-professional baseball for a couple of years prior to his Olympic appearance. His medals were restored-albeit posthumously-in 1983.
Harold Osborn: Osborn won not only the decathlon at the 1924 Olympics, but also the high jump, further validating his status as the world's greatest athlete at the time.
James Bausch: Bausch captured the decathlon gold at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. He was a superior performer in field events.
Glenn Morris: Morris took the gold in Berlin in 1936, leading a U.S. sweep of the decathlon medals. His points total was a new world record.
Bob Mathias: Mathias won back-to-back golds at the 1948 and 1952 Olympics, with the first title secured while he was still in his teens. As a testament to his greatness in the decathlon, he held the world record in the event for five years between 1950-55.
Milt Campbell: Campbell was victorious in the decathlon at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne-the first black American man to achieve the feat.
Rafer Johnson: Johnson earned the Olympic decathlon crown at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. He held the world record at various times between 1955-63.
Bill Toomey: Toomey was the world's best decathlete in the late 1960s and early '70s. He won the gold at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.
Bruce Jenner: Jenner became a national hero after expanded television coverage of the Olympics in 1976 showcased his athletic prowess to millions of viewers in the U.S. He also impressively held the world record for almost five years between 1975-80.
Dan O'Brien: O'Brien ranks as one of the best-ever decathletes. He reigned supreme in the event in the first half of the 1990s, winning three consecutive World Championships golds and then the Olympic title in 1996.
Bryan Clay: After earning the decathlon silver at the Athens Games in 2004, Clay improved his standing on the medal podium with the gold in Beijing. He was a top performer in the 100 meters and the discus throw.
Ashton Eaton: America's latest Olympic decathlon champion, Eaton also set the current world record earlier this year at the U.S. Olympic Trials. At just 24 years of age, Eaton may have a chance to match Bob Mathias' consecutive Olympic titles in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
Patrick Hattman covers the Olympics for the Yahoo! Contributor Network and looks forward to the final day of competition at the London Games.
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