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What is Olympic Heptathlon?


What is Olympic Heptathlon? The women’s-only heptathlon tests the competitors’ overall athletic skills as they take on seven events in a two-day period.


The women’s heptathlon rules are exactly the same as the men’s decathlon rules except that the heptathlon consists of seven events, also held on two consecutive days. The first day’s events, in order, include the 100-meter hurdles, the high jump, shot put and the 200-meter run. The second day’s events, in order, include the long jump, the javelin throw and an 800-meter run.

The rules for each event within the heptathlon 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 heptathlon event takes place in the same venue, and uses the same equipment, as its individual Olympic Games counterpart. Check the links below for more information about each heptathlon event.


Athletes in the heptathlon 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 heptathlon.

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

If there is a tie in points after seven events, the victory goes to the competitor who out-scored her rival in more events. If that tiebreaker results in a draw (3-3 with one tie, for example), the victory goes to the heptathlete who scored the most points in any single event.

Read more about Olympic Heptathlon Rules and Scoring.

Back to Olympic Heptathlon main page

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