Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

From the Greek meaning ‘ten prizes’, an event in athletics comprising ten activities, four track and six field. Day one includes the 100 metres, long jump, shot-put, high jump, and 400 metres; day two includes the 110-metre hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, and 1,500 metres. The event was first introduced at the 1904 St Louis Olympics, won by Ireland's Thomas Kiely (1869–1951), but was omitted from the London 1908 programme. Reinstated at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, it was won by the USA's Jim Thorpe. Norway and Finland also produced champions (as did Sweden retrospectively, when the International Olympic Committee stripped Thorpe of his title). But the USA dominated the event for decades, with occasional winners from the Germanies and the Soviet Union, and Britain's Francis ‘Daley’ Thompson (1980 and 1984). Latterly, in the three Olympics up to and including Beijing 2008, East European nations have produced the champions (Estonia, the Czech Republic, and Belarus). The decathlon continues to have appeal to spectators because of the dogged commitment needed to compete in such a range of events in such a limited time-scale.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.

Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.