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Introduction to the Heptathlon


The heptathlon is the women’s alternative to the decathlon in most competitions, including the Olympics. The heptathlon includes seven different events during two days of competition. The first day’s events, in order, are: 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put and 200-meter run. Day two events begin with the long jump, followed by the javelin throw and 800-meter run. There is generally at least a 30 minute break between each day’s events.


Every track and field discipline is included in the heptathlon, except for long distance running. Heptathletes must nevertheless possess excellent stamina in order to compete successfully in the seven events over two days.

What to look for:

Competitors receive points in each event, based on a pre-set scoring table. It’s not necessary to win any individual events in order to win the heptathlon. Rather, it’s more important for the heptathlete to be consistently successful in each event.

World record:

One of America’s all-time greatest athletes, Jackie Joyner-Kersee established the world heptathlon record during the 1988 Seoul Olympics when she totaled 7291 points. She remains one of three women to ever clear 7000 points in the heptathlon, a feat she accomplished six times.

During her record-setting performance, Joyner-Kersey ran 12.96 in the 100 hurdles and scored 1.86 meters in the high jump, 15.8 in the shot put, was clocked at 22.56 in the 200, leaped 7.27 meters in the long jump, threw the javelin 45.66 meters and ran 2:08.51 in the 800.

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