Decathlon is a combined track and field event in Athletics. It consists of ten track and field events after which this sport is named as Decathlon. The word Decathlon is derived from the Greek meaning deca – ten and athlon – contest or prize.
These ten events are held over two consecutive days with five sports each day. The winner is declared on the basis of combined performance of all the ten events that take place.
The person who wins the decathlon is given the title of “World’s Greatest Athlete”. This all had started when Gustav V (King of Sweden) told Jim Thorpe (American athlete and Olympic gold medalist), “Sir, you are the world’s greatest athlete” after Thorpe won the Decathlon at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics.
Moreover the decathlon is mainly contested by male athletes, while the female compete in the Heptathlon.
The decathlon got originated from the ancient Pentathlon events that took place at the ancient Greek Olympics. At that time the Pentathlon events involved five disciplines – long jump, discus throw, javelin throw, sprint and a wrestling match. This sport was introduced in the Olympics during 708 BC and became quite popular for many centuries.
A ten-event competition known as the “All-Round” championship similar to Decathlon was first held at the United States Amateur Championships in 1884 continued till 1890. This consisted of ten events that were held in one day – 100 yards, Shot Put, High Jump, 880 yards, Hammer Throw, Pole Vault, 120 Yard Hurdles, 56 lb. Weight Throw, Long Jump and One Mile Run. Moreover, an all-round event was held at the 1904 Summer Olympics held at St. Louis. But whether this event was an official event or not, is still a controversy.
The scoring was by point tables, but in the sprint race the time was taken in consideration for the winner and for others in the 100 meter and high hurdles the distance was estimated by the distance they were behind the winner. Each foot behind the winner was deducted with seven points for 100 meter and five points for hurdles. Moreover this event was held in July, as part of the Gymnastics Championships, and not as track and field event.
The modern Decathlon made its place in the Olympic athletics program at the 1912 Stockholm Games.
The one-hour decathlon is a special type of Decathlon in which the athletes have to start the last of the ten events (1500 meter) within sixty minutes from the start of the first event.
Robert Změlík, Czech decathlete is the world’s record holder and has won a gold medal in Olympic Decathlon in 1992.
The entire International and top level men’s decathlons are divided into a two-day competition.
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At major championships, the women’s Decathlon is equivalent to seven-event heptathlon and previously it was the five-event - Pentathlon. The women’s disciplines differ from men’s in the same way as the individual events such as the Shot, Discus and Javelin weigh less and the sprint hurdles uses lower hurdles over 100 m rather than 110 m.
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1) Sprint Races
Sprint is an athletic track event which involves running over a short fixed distance in the quickest time possible.
The first 100 m run took place at the first modern Olympics in Athens, Greece, in 1896. It soon became as the star event of the Olympic Games, with the winner of the race known as the ‘fastest human being in the world’. The first Olympic track events for women were held at the 1928 Olympic Games held at Amsterdam, Netherlands.
The first track and field competition was held at Exeter College, Oxford, Great Britain in 1824 that included a quarter-mile race of 402 meters. Later on, this event was dropped to 400 meters and was included in the first modern Olympics in Athens, Greece in 1896 but only for Men. The women’s event was later added in the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. Moreover, the men’s and women’s 400 meter races were featured for the first time in the 1983 World Championships held at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki, Finland.
Discus Throw is a track and field (throwing) athletics event in which athletes throw a heavy disc known as a "discus" as far as possible to win the competition. It is one of the ancient sports that was demonstrated by the fifth-century BC artist Myron in his statue ‘Discobolus’. This sport was played as one of the events in the Ancient Greek pentathlon in 708 BC.
The Pole Vault is an athletic (track and field) event that is organized by the World Athletics formerly known as International Association of Athletics Federations (“IAAF”) for both men and women. In this sport the Competitors sprint along a runway carrying a long, flexible pole that they plant in a box and transfer the Kinetic energy produced from running to the potential energy stored in the pole to lever themselves over a crossbar that is suspended several meters above the ground between two upright stands. The height of the crossbar is raised after every round and all the athletes (vaulter) are given three attempts.
Javelin Throw is a track and field event in which a Javelin, a spear, is thrown from a predetermined area by running from a distance of their choice to gain maximum momentum and speed. The Javelin Throw was added to the Ancient Olympic Games, Olympia, a sacred site located near the western coast of the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece as part of Pentathlon in 708 BC. This included two events, one for distance and the other for accuracy in hitting a target. Throwing the Javelin as a sport evolved from the everyday use of the spear in hunting and warfare.
It is a type of jumping in which an athlete jumps over an obstacle at a high speed or in a sprint is known as Hurdling.
The event became popular from the wooden barriers that were placed along a 100 yard stretch in England during the 1830s. The 100 meter hurdle was featured for the first time during the Women's World Games held at Pershing Stadium in Paris in August 20, 1922.
The event became popular from the wooden barriers that were placed along a 100 yard stretch, in England during the 1830s. The Oxford and Cambridge universities had developed the event, increasing its distance to 120 yards (109.7 m) which later was rounded up to 110 m by the French in 1888. This discipline was added in the 1896 Olympics held at Athens, Greece as a Men’s event.
Long Jump also known as the ‘Broad jump’. It is a track and field athletic event in which athletes sprint along a runway and jump as far as possible from a wooden take-off board into the sandpit. This sport requires a lot of speed, strength, stamina and agility to have a great landing. The long Jump is the only known jumping event that has its roots connected to the Ancient Greece’s Olympics pentathlon events dated 776 B.C.
Shot put is an Athletic Field Event in which athletes compete by throwing (putting) a heavy spherical metal ball (shot) as far as possible. Each competitor is allowed to make three attempts. After which the best of the three is taken in to consideration and whoever puts the shot farthest is declared a winner. The first competitions resembling the modern shot put had occurred in the middle ages in which soldiers used cannon balls during the events.
High Jump is a track and field athletic event in which athletes jump unaided over a four-meter long horizontal bar placed at predetermined height without dislodging it. High jump and pole vault events are together referred as "vertical jumps". The first recorded high jump events took place in Scotland in the 19th century. From that time, the techniques used in this event have gone through a series of changes.
The Middle-distance running events are usually longer than sprints in the athlete has to run over the fixed distance in the shortest possible distance. This type of running requires endurance and pace.
The 1500 meters is the prime middle -distance track event in athletics. This event is equivalent to 1.5 kilometers or approximately 0.93 miles. In the 1500 meter running the athlete runs over three and three-quarter laps around a standard 400 meter track. Athletes make a bunched start and break immediately for the inside lane.
The schedule of events differs from the men's decathlon such that the field events are switched between day one and day two to avoid scheduling conflicts when men's and women's decathlon competitions take place simultaneously.
Commonly, Sprinters need two types of shoes that are the training shoes and sprinting spikes. The sprinting spikes are usually designed to be light weight with a minimal cushion on the heels. They include a plate on the forefoot to keep the runner on the toes. The spike plate has a maximum of eleven cleats which are not more than nine mm long offering maximum traction.
Sprinters wear a pair of shorts and a short-sleeved or sleeveless T-shirt or a top indicating the athlete's number.
Jumpers use cleated shoes for grip and stability and to withstand the pressure of the take-off stride.
Comfortable, close fitted vests and shorts are worn by jumpers that allow free movement.
1) Shot Put Toe Boards / Stop board
These are made of cast aluminum and are commonly four inches high boards. The dimensions of the board are in length: 1.21-1.23 m (121-123 cms.), width: 11.2-30 cm (4.4 – 118 inch) and height: 10cm (3.93 inch) that is higher than the inside of the circle.
2) Shot Put
The shot put is a spherical ball made of cast iron, brass and stainless steel with smooth surface. The Shot (ball) for men weighs 7.26 kg (16 pounds) and is 110-130 mm (4.3-5.1 inches) in diameter whereas for women the Shot (ball) weighs 4 kg (8.82 pound) and is 95-110 mm (3.7-4.3 inches) in diameter. The Shots are of two types: (a) Outdoor shot-put and (b) Indoor shot put that are available in different sizes and weights.
3) Throwing Circle
It is a circle of 2.14 m (7 feet) in diameter into a 34.92° sector as measured from the center of the circle. Usually this is made on the ground for outdoor shot put competitions and for indoor competitions the ring is made of high-resistance multi- layer plywood on a metal surface that makes it stiff and strengthens the components. In 1908, the throwing area was changed from a square to a circle. In the following year, a stop board was added to give shot putters a point of support for their foot.
4) Shot Put Shoes
The Shot put Shoes are made of leather or suede with smooth and flexible soles. Cleats are not present over the outer sole to provide maximum adherence to the athlete on the surface of the throwing circle.
5) Shot Put Clothing
Throwers wear lightweight vests and shorts. The shorts may be tight fitted to support the thighs.
Crossbars are made of lightweight material such as fiber-glass or aluminum having a length of approximately four meter (13.12 ft.) and twenty nine to thirty one millimeter (1.14 – 1.22 in.) in diameter. Its maximum weight is up to two kilogram (70.54 oz.)
Jumpers wear sprinting shoes that have spikes in front and in the back (heel). These spikes present on the shoes offer the jumper, the traction that he / she needs.
Close-fitted leotard or vest and shorts are worn by athletes to help them clear the bar.
High jump Uprights
These are the two vertical uprights that support the horizontal crossbar in such a way that it does not fall if it is touched by a participant trying to jump over it. They must be installed 4.02m ± 0.02m apart.
Hurdles – Shoes
A pair of lightweight, no heel shoes with shorter cleats in the front is used that provides traction.
Hurdles – Clothing
Sprinters wear a pair of tight-fitting shorts and a short-sleeved or sleeveless T-shirt or a top indicating the athlete number.
Hurdles – Equipment
The uprights and bases of the hurdles are made of metal, but the crossbar is wooden. Its height varies from event to event. For sprint events, it is 1.07 m long for men and 84 cm for women with a width of 1.2 m. For 400m hurdles, it is 91 cm long for men and 76 cm for women.
1) Discus Disc
Usually, the Discus Disc sides are made of plastic, wood, fiberglass, carbon fiber or metal with a metal rim in the boundary and a metal core to attain the weight. The more rim weight, the greater the angular momentum that increases the stability and distance. According to the International Association of Athletics Federations (“IAAF”) the weight of the discus for Men should be 2kg (70.54 oz.) with 22 cm (8.66 inch) in diameter and for Women it should be 1kg (35.27 oz.) with 18 cm (7.08 inch) in diameter.
2) Discus Shoes
The Discus Shoes are made of leather or suede with smooth and flexible soles. Cleats are not present over the outer sole.
3) Discus Clothing
Throwers wear lightweight vests and shorts. The shorts may be tight fitted to support the thighs.
The most important equipment used in Pole Vault is:
The Runway used in this sport is a straight, 40–45 m (131-147 ft. 6 in.) long stretch of all-weather polyurethane track to which the pole vault box or slide way and the crossbar lies at the end.
2) Pole Vault box / Slide way
This is commonly made from stainless steel and is shaped trapezoidal. The box is one meter (3 ft. 3 in.) long and deepens up to twenty centimeter (8 in.) and narrows up to fifteen centimeter (6 in.)
3) Cross Bar
Crossbars are made of lightweight material such as reinforced plastic or aluminum having a length of approximately four meter (13.1 feet) that rests on two long uprights with adjustable heights. The pegs, positioned on the inside support the uprights and allow the crossbar to raise and lower as per the competition progresses.
4) Landing Mat
The overall size of the pole vault landing area shall be a minimum of nineteen feet - eight inch (6.03 meters) wide and usually twenty feet - two inch ( 6.15 meters) deep is made of plastic-covered layers of foam-rubber on which the athletes land after jumping over the cross-bars.
This is a long, flexible pole usually made of carbon fiber or fiberglass. The pole used in pole vault can be of any length or diameter depending on the athlete’s preference.
6) Pole Vault Shoes
Vaulters wear running shoes with cleats on the outer sole for a better grip on the runway.
7) Pole Vault Clothing
Vaulters wear close-fitting sports vest and shorts so that they can reduce the danger of snagging the pole while running and jumping.
Leather or nylon shoes with a maximum of 11 front and rear cleats (12mm long) are worn during Javelin throw.
Athletes wear sleeveless or short-sleeved T-shirts or top. The shorts may be tight fitted to support the thighs.
It is a light spear which is divided into three parts - tip, shaft and cord grip. It is designed to throw as a sport event but earlier was used as weapon in war and for hunting purpose. Its overall length must be at least 260 cm (102.4 inches) and its weight at least 800 grams (1.8 pounds). The women's Javelin is somewhat shorter and lighter—a minimum 220 cm (86.6 inches) long and 600 grams (1.3 pounds) in weight.
Athletes use lightweight shoes with a maximum of 11 cleats of 9 mm. Shoes for 800m usually have no heels while those for 1500m do have heels. For long running events they opt for flexible running shoes that absorb the impact of each stride.
Sprinters wear a pair of tight fitted shorts and a short-sleeved or sleeveless T-shirt or a top indicating the athlete's number.
Sprints take place on a running track over a distance of 100 m, 200 m and 400 m on outdoor tracks and over 60 m on indoor tracks. Usually, the running track is 400 m in circumference (oval track) consisting of two parallel straights each of 84.39 m (276.87 ft.) in length and two bends of equal radius of 36.50 m (119.75 ft.). The track consists of a number of lanes (commonly eight or nine) which are usually 1.22 m (4 ft.) wide for individual runners.
The playing area in the long jump sport consists of a runway, takeoff board, plasticine and sand pit.
The shot put playing area includes a stop/toe board, a throwing circle and a landing area for the shot. The throw takes place from inside a circle which is 7 feet (2.14 m) in diameter with a white-colored curved toe-board of around 4 inches (10 cm) in height which is positioned at the front of the circle. The landing area is a sector that fans out at 34.92 degrees from the center of the throwing circle and must not be more than 30 m long. The shot thrown weighs around 7.26 kg for men and 4 kg for women.
The semicircular runway track is made of rubberized material that is laid over concrete. The radius of the runway is twenty meter (65.61 ft.) which further leads to the landing area that is the landing mat.
The landing mat area is made of plastic-covered layers of foam-rubber on which the athletes land after jumping over the cross-bars.
It is six meter (19.68 ft.) in length, four meter (13.12 ft.) in width and it shall be covered by a spike proof protective mat. The overall height of the mat shall be minimum 0.70 m (2.29 ft.).
100 meters hurdles (Women only)
These races take place over a 100m straight track consisting of ten 2 feet 9 inches hurdles spread over the track. The first hurdle is 13m from the start, and then a distance of 8.5 m between hurdles thereafter and the last hurdle is 10.5m from the finish.
110 meters hurdles (Men only)
These races take place over a 110m straight track consisting of ten 3 feet 6 inches hurdles spread over the track. The first hurdle is 13.72 m from the start, and then a distance 9.14 m between hurdles thereafter and the last hurdle is 14.02m from the finish.
Discus Throw-Throwing Circle
To have a perfect throw, the athlete has to start throwing from a throwing circle of 2.5 m (8 ft. 2 ¼ in.) in diameter, which is made up of concrete or some non-slippery material. The throwing circle is enclosed with a rim of 6 mm thickness and a depth of 70 to 80 mm.
Discus Throw- Cage
The U-shaped cage is to protect the viewers. It is designed, manufactured and maintained so that it is capable of stopping a 2kg discus moving at speeds of up to 25 m per second. The netting of suitable natural or synthetic fiber cord or of mild or high tensile steel wire should be used. The mouth has a width of 6 m and a height of 4 m. The mouth of the cage is positioned 7 m in front of the center of the throwing circle.
Discus throw- Landing Zone
The landing zone (also called landing sector) is where the discus arrives after the athlete throws it. The landing zone’s surface is made of natural grass or other smooth suitable material. The landing zone is laid at an angle of 34.92 degree with respect to the middle of the throwing circle. It is marked by 50 mm wide white lines and the landing zone is 80 m long.
The Javelin throwing area consists of (1) Runway (2) The Throwing Arc and (3) The Throwing Sector.
The minimum length of the runway should be 30 meter (98.42 ft.) and maximum it should be up to 36.50 meter (119.75 ft.). It is marked by two parallel lines whose length is approximately hundred meters (328.08 ft.) and they are separated by a distance of four meter (13.12 ft.). Javelin throw is the only sport in which the competitors are not confined to a circle but have to run along the runway to throw the Javelin.
The Throwing Arc
This is a curved arc of a circle having 8 meter (26.24 ft.) of radius and is located at the end of the runway. The strip is made up of white paint with a width of 70 mm (2.75 in.). The athletes should not step on or beyond the arc at any point while throwing the Javelin or after the throw.
The Landing Sector
The landing sector is also known as the throwing sector. It is the wedge-shaped area with a soft, even surface, upon which the Javelin lands. For the Javelin throw, the landing sector covers an angle of 28.96 degrees extending outwards from the arc at the end of the runway.
Each athlete is awarded points for their performance in each discipline and the winner is the one who scores most points after all the ten events. In the case of a tie, the athlete with most points in the majority of the events wins. Still, if the tie remains, the athlete with most points in any one of the event wins.
Only one false start per race is allowed in track events, any further false starts lead to the disqualification of the athlete responsible for the same. In throwing and jumping events, each athlete can have three trials only.
The following table shows the bench mark levels needed to earn 1,000, 900, 800, 700 points and it is split evenly between the events.
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Coordinate the work of the judges and validate the attempt of the athletes by indicating a fair jump/throw with a white flag and a foul jump/throw with a red flag.
Record all attempts made by the competitors and verify the results at the end of each round.
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