A decathlon is a grueling track and field competition comprising of ten competitive events. The events include a 100 meters, 400 meters and 1500 meters run besides the long jump, high jump, shot put, a 110 meters hurdles, discus throw, javelin throw and pole vault.
An athlete training for a decathlon has to successfully train for all the ten events which involves a lot of physical strength, energy and skill. The coaches who provide training to the athletes in the various track and field events have to tech them skills like coordination and discipline besides keeping them highly motivated all through the challenging physical training.
The decathlon finds its roots in the Ancient Greek ‘Pentathlon’ having events such as the long jump, javelin throw, discus throw, sprint and a wrestling match. Over time a number of versions of the games developed with the modern decathlon emerging at the ‘Stockholm Olympic Games in 1912. The Olympic decathlon of 1912 was won by Jim Thorpe after which he came to be known as the “world’s greatest athlete”.
The men’s decathlon typically includes ten competitive events that the athletes have to compete in a two-day grueling schedule. The events which are lined up for the first day of the competition start off with a 100-meter run and end with the 400- meter run. The other events that are included are shot put, the long jump and the high jump.
The competitive events for the second day of the decathlon start off with the 110- meter hurdles and end with the 1500-meter run. The other events lined up in between are discus throw, javelin throw and the pole vault.
In a decathlon, it is permitted for the runners to have two false starts unlike the customary one false start in an individual event. Whereas in jumping and throwing events, the competitors get only three chances. Otherwise the rules for the various events in a decathlon are usually the same as applicable to a particular individual event.
The competitor has to take part in each event of the decathlon in order to qualify for the next round. No event can be passed on as the player would then be automatically disqualified. The venue as well as the equipment of the Olympic decathlon is the same as for its counterpart, the individual Olympic events. The decathlon went through several phases of popularity in the early 20th century. But in the year 1964, the decathlon gained firm roots and got standardized in the games with the added feature of a modern scoring system to assess the events.
The performance of an athlete in a decathlon is decided by the points system scored in each event and as such is not determined by the position attained in an event. The decathlon is mainly dominated by the male athletes though female athletes keenly take part in the ‘Heptathlon’. The winner of a decathlon is looked upon as the “world’s greatest athlete”.