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College decathletes pose at the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA.

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.[1] 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.[2] The current decathlon world record holder is American Ashton Eaton, who scored 9,039 points at the 2012 United States Olympic Trials.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5]


Men's decathlon[edit]

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.

Day 1
Day 2

Women's decathlon[edit]

At major championships, the women's equivalent of the decathlon is the seven-event heptathlon; prior to 1981 it was the five-event pentathlon.[6] However, in 2001 the IAAF approved scoring tables for women's decathlon; the current world record holder is Austra Skujytė of Lithuania.[7] 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.[8]

Day 1
Day 2

One hour[edit]

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.[9]

Points system[edit]

100 m25.4347181.81
Long jump0.143542201.4
Shot put51.391.51.05
High jump0.8521751.42
400 m1.53775821.81
110 m hurdles5.7435228.51.92
Discus throw12.9141.1
Pole vault0.27981001.35
Javelin throw10.1471.08
1500 m0.037684801.85

The 2001 IAAF points tables use the following formulae:[10]

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).[10]

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.[11]


Split evenly between the events, the following table shows the benchmark levels needed to earn 1000, 900, 800 and 700 points in each sport.

Event1,000 pts900 pts800 pts700 ptsUnits
100 m10.39510.82711.27811.756Seconds
Long jump7.767.366.9416.51Metres
Shot put18.416.7915.1613.53Metres
High jump2.202.101.991.88Metres
400 m46.1748.1950.3252.58Seconds
110 m hurdles13.814.5915.41916.29Seconds
Discus throw56.1751.446.5941.72Metres
Pole vault5.284.964.634.29Metres
Javelin throw77.1970.6764.0957.45Metres
1500 m3:53.794:07.424:21.774:36.96Minutes:Seconds


The current world record holder for the decathlon is Ashton Eaton of the United States, with a score of 9039 points set during the 2012 Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon.[12]

World9,039 Ashton Eaton (USA)2012
World junior8,397 Torsten Voss (GDR)1982
Continental records
Africa8,343 Willem Coertzen (RSA)2013
Asia8,725 Dmitriy Karpov (KAZ)2004
Europe9,026 Roman Šebrle (CZE)2001
North, Central America
and Caribbean
9,039 Ashton Eaton (USA)2012
Oceania8,490 Jagan Hames (AUS)1998
South America8,291 Tito Steiner (ARG)1983

Decathlon bests[edit]

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.[13]

World records (WR) compared to decathlon bests (DB)
EventWR–World record/
DB–Decathlon best
AthleteRecordScoreDifference% DifferenceDateLocationRef
100 m
WR Usain Bolt (JAM)9.58 s1,2021586.582009-08-16Berlin
DB Ashton Eaton (USA)10.21 s1,0442012-06-22Eugene[14]
Long jump
WR Mike Powell (USA)8.95 m1,3121928.041991-08-30Tokyo
DB Ashton Eaton (USA)8.23 m1,1202012-06-22Eugene[15]
Shot put
WR Randy Barnes (USA)23.12 m1,29524717.081990-05-20Westwood
DB Edy Hubacher (SUI)19.17 m1,0481969-10-05Bern
High jump
WR Javier Sotomayor (CUB)2.45 m1,2441837.351993-07-27Salamanca
DB Rolf Beilschmidt (GDR) &
 Christian Schenk (GDR)
2.27 m1,0611977-10-01 1988-09-28Jena
400 m
WR Michael Johnson (USA)43.18 s1,1561315.791999-08-26Seville
DB Bill Toomey (USA)45.68 s1,0251968-10-18Mexico City
110 m hurdles
WR Aries Merritt (USA)12.80 s1,135914.662012-09-07Brussels
DB Ashton Eaton (USA)13.35 s1,0602011-06-04Eugene
Discus throw
WR Jürgen Schult (GDR)74.08 m1,38339024.581986-06-06Neubrandenburg
DB Bryan Clay (USA)55.87 m9932005-06-24Carson
Pole vault
WR Sergey Bubka (UKR)6.14 m1,2771256.191994-07-31Sestriere
DB Tim Lobinger (GER)5.76 m1,1521999-09-16Leverkusen
Javelin throw
WR Jan Železný (CZE)98.48 m1,33129118.801996-05-25Jena
DB Peter Blank (FRG)79.80 m1,0401992-07-19Emmelshausen
1500 m
WR Hicham El Guerrouj (MAR)3 m 26.00 s1,21825515.871998-07-14Rome
DB Robert Baker (USA)3 m 58.70 s9631980-04-03Austin
TotalWorld record12,5532,06316.43

National records[edit]

9,039 USAAshton Eaton2012-06-23Eugene[12]
9,026 CZERoman Šebrle2001-04-27Götzis
8,847 GBRDaley Thompson1984-08-09Los Angeles
8,832 GERJürgen Hingsen1984-06-09Mannheim
8,815 ESTErki Nool2001-08-07Edmonton
8,735 BLREduard Hämäläinen1994-05-29Götzis
8,730 FINEduard Hämäläinen1997-08-06Athens
8,725 KAZDmitriy Karpov2004-08-24Athens
8,709 UKRAleksandr Apaychev1984-06-03Neubrandenburg
8,698 RUSGrigoriy Degtyaryev1984-06-22Kiev
8,654 CUBLeonel Suárez2009-07-04Havana
8,644 JAMMaurice Smith2007-09-01Osaka
8,626 CANMike Smith1996-05-26Götzis
8,574 FRAChristian Plaziat1990-08-29Split
8,573 ISLJón Arnar Magnússon1998-05-31Götzis
8,566 POLSebastian Chmara1998-05-17Murcia
8,554 HUNAttila Zsivóczky2000-06-04Götzis
8,526 ESPFrancisco Javier Benet1998-05-17Murcia
8,519 BELHans Van Alphen2012-05-27Götzis[16]
8,506 NEDEelco Sintnicolaas2012-05-27Götzis[16]
8,490 AUSJagan Hames1998-09-18Kuala Lumpur
8,445 UZBRamil Ganiyev1997-08-06Athens
8,437 LTURišardas Malachovskis1988-07-02Staiki
8,406 SWENicklas Wiberg2009-08-20Berlin
8,359 NZLSimon Poelman1987-03-22Christchurch
8,343 RSAWillem Coertzen10–11 April 2013Moscow[17]
8,334  SUIStephan Niklaus1983-07-03Lausanne
8,332 ALGLarbi Bouraada2012-06-15Ratingen[18]
8,320 AUTGernot Kellermayr1993-05-30Götzis
8,312 LATEdgars Eriņš2011-05-27Valmiera
8,291 ARGTito Steiner1983-06-23Provo
8,290 CHNQi Haifeng2005-05-29Götzis
8,288 MDAValeri Kachanov1980-06-21Moscow
8,276 BRALuiz Alberto de Araújo2012-06-30São Paulo[19]
8,275 SRBMihail Dudaš2013-08-11Moscow
8,213 PORMário Aníbal2001-07-01Kaunas
8,206 ROCYang Chuan-Kwang1963-04-28Walnut
8,199 BULAtanas Andonov1981-06-21Sofia
8,169 ITABeniamino Poserina1996-10-06Formia
8,160 NORBenjamin Jensen1999-08-01Greve
8,073 JPNKeisuke Ushiro2011-06-05Kawasaki
8,069 GREProdromos Korkizoglou2000-07-02Ibach
8,065 CHIGonzalo Barroilhet2012-04-20Charlottesville[20]
8,023 TUNHamdi Dhouibi2005-08-10Helsinki
7,994 DENLars Warming1988-06-19Götzis
7,882 IRLCarlos O'Connell1988-06-05Emmitsburg
7,860 KORKim Kun-Woo2011-08-28Gongju
7,846 TJKIgor Sobolevskiy1982-07-16Leningrad
7,843 ROMVasile Bogdan1975-06-07Paris
7,802 CYPYeorgios Andreou2000-08-12Volos
7,799 SVKPeter Soldos2001-06-10Arles
7,777 BARVictor Houston1997-08-06Athens
7,757 TURAlper Kasapoğlu1996-04-19Azusa
7,756 GEOJuri Dyachkov1968-06-16Tbilisi
7,755 VIEVu Van Huyen2010-11-25Guangzhou
7,734 VENDouglas Fernández1983-08-27Caracas
7,730 QATAhmad Hassan Moussa2004-06-27Ratingen
7,711 IRIHadi Sepehrzad2008-07-21Tehran
7,704 PURLuiggy Llanos2003-08-06Santo Domingo
7,698 SLODamjan Sitar2006-05-28Maribor
7,659 CROJoško Vlašić1983-06-25Izmir
7,632 LCADominic Johnson1998-03-27Tucson
7,614 MEXAlejandro Cárdenas1996-05-11Medellín
7,522 MNEDarko Pešić2013-07-12Tampere
7,511 MRIGuillaume Thierry6–7 September 2013Nice
7,096 ISRErez Meltzer1994-07-31Markt Schwaben
7,095 MASMuhammad Malik Tobias2003-06-08Filderstadt
6,963 PHIFidel Gallenero2001-05-18Manila
6,943 PARClaudio Escauriza1982-10-12Asunción

Season's bests[edit]

19728,466 Mykola Avilov (URS)Munich
19738,163 Lennart Hedmark (SWE)Bonn
19748,229 Ryszard Skowronek (POL)Montreal
19758,429 Bruce Jenner (USA)Eugene
19768,634 Bruce Jenner (USA)Montreal
19778,400 Aleksandr Grebenyuk (URS)Riga
19788,493 Guido Kratschmer (FRG)Bernhausen
19798,476 Guido Kratschmer (FRG)Krefeld
19808,667 Guido Kratschmer (FRG)Bernhausen
19818,334 Rainer Pottel (GDR)Birmingham
19828,774 Daley Thompson (GBR)Athens
19838,825 Jürgen Hingsen (FRG)Bernhausen
19848,847 Daley Thompson (GBR)Los Angeles
19858,559 Torsten Voss (GDR)Dresden
19868,811 Daley Thompson (GBR)Stuttgart
19878,680 Torsten Voss (GDR)Rome
19888,512 Christian Plaziat (FRA)Talence
19898,549 Dave Johnson (USA)Houston
19908,574 Christian Plaziat (FRA)Split
19918,812 Dan O'Brien (USA)Tokyo
19928,891 Dan O'Brien (USA)Talence
19938,817 Dan O'Brien (USA)Stuttgart
19948,735 Eduard Hämäläinen (BLR)Götzis
19958,695 Dan O'Brien (USA)Göteborg
19968,824 Dan O'Brien (USA)Atlanta
19978,837 Tomáš Dvořák (CZE)Athens
19988,755 Dan O'Brien (USA)Uniondale
19998,994 Tomáš Dvořák (CZE)Prague
20008,900 Tomáš Dvořák (CZE)Götzis
20019,026 Roman Šebrle (CZE)Götzis
20028,800 Roman Šebrle (CZE)Götzis
20038,807 Roman Šebrle (CZE)Götzis
20048,893 Roman Šebrle (CZE)Athens
20058,732 Bryan Clay (USA)Helsinki
20068,677 Bryan Clay (USA)Götzis
20078,697 Roman Šebrle (CZE)Kladno
20088,832 Bryan Clay (USA)Eugene
20098,790 Trey Hardee (USA)Berlin
20108,483 Bryan Clay (USA)Götzis
20118,729 Ashton Eaton (USA)Eugene
20129,039 Ashton Eaton (USA)Eugene

See also[edit]

Other multiple event contests[edit]


  1. ^ "Decathlon". Encarta. 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. Retrieved 2008-08-06. 
  2. ^ World's Greatest Athlete
  3. ^
  4. ^ Waldo E. Sweet, Erich Segal (1987). Sport and recreation in ancient Greece. Oxford University Press. (p37). Retrieved on 2011-05-07.
  5. ^ IAAF Scoring Tables for Combined Events, p. 7.
  6. ^ IAAF Scoring Tables for Combined Events, p. 9.
  7. ^ "Decathlon Records". IAAF. Retrieved 2009-05-09. 
  8. ^ IAAF Scoring Tables for Combined Events, p. 10.
  9. ^ Decathlon Records. DECA - The Decathlon Associatiiton. Retrieved on 2007-10-23.
  10. ^ a b IAAF Scoring Tables for Combined Events, p. 24.
  11. ^ IAAF Scoring Tables of Athletics - Outdoor - 2008 Edition p. 154.
  12. ^ a b "Decathlon Results". USATF. 23 June 2012. Retrieved 24 June 2012. 
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "U.S. Olympic trials: Ashton Eaton has record-setting Day 1 in decathlon". 22 June 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  15. ^ "Ashton Eaton Breaks Decathlon 100m and Long Jump World Records". 22 June 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  16. ^ a b "Hypo-Meeting 2012 Men's Results". IAAF. 27 May 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2012. 
  17. ^ "Decathlon Results". IAAF. 11 August 2013. Retrieved 11 August 2013. 
  18. ^ "Decathlon Results". IAAF. 15 June 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  19. ^ "Decathlon Results". CBAt. 30 June 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2012. 
  20. ^ "Decathlon Results". 20 April 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 

External links[edit]