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What is Olympic Decathlon?


What is Olympic Decathlon? Jim Thorpe was dubbed “the world’s greatest athlete” after winning the 1912 Olympic decathlon. His successors inherit that title by competing in 10 events in a grueling, two-day schedule.


The men’s decathlon consists of ten events that are held on two consecutive days. The first day’s events include, in order, a 100-meter run, the long jump, shot put, high jump and a 400-meter run. The second day’s events, in order, include the 110-meter hurdles followed by the discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and a 1500-meter run.

The rules for each event within the decathlon are generally the same as for the individual events themselves, with a few exceptions. Most notably, runners are allowed two false starts instead of one, while competitors receive only three attempts in throwing and jumping events. Competitors cannot pass on any event. Failing to attempt any single event results in disqualification.


Each decathlon event takes place in the same venue, and uses the same equipment, as its individual Olympic Games counterpart. Check the links below for more details on each decathlon event.


Athletes in the decathlon must achieve an Olympic qualifying score and must qualify for their nation’s Olympic team. A maximum of three competitors per country may compete in the decathlon.

Points are awarded to each athlete according to his time or distance, not his placement in the field, according to pre-set formulas.

If there is a tie in points after 10 events the victory goes to the competitor who out-scored his rival in more events. If that tiebreaker results in a draw, the victory goes to the decathlete who scored the most points in any single event.

Read more about Olympic Decathlon Rules and Scoring.

Back to Olympic Decathlon main page

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