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decathlon

decathlon dĭkăth´lŏn [key], in modern Olympic games , a contest for men held over two days and composed of 10 track-and-field events. It consists of the long jump the high jump the discus throw the shot putt the javelin throw the 100-, 400-, and 1,500-meter races the 110-meter hurdle race and the pole vault. The decathlon became an Olympic event in 1912. The winner is popularly regarded as the world's greatest athlete noted among these are the Americans Jim Thorpe, Bob Mathias, and Bruce Jenner and the British Daley Thompson. The ancient pentathlon , a five-event contest, resembled the modern decathlon.

The heptathlon is the equivalent modern event for women, consisting of seven track-and-field events. Begun as an Olympic pentathlon in 1964, it was expanded in 1984 and now includes the long jump the high jump the shot put the javelin throw the 200- and 800-meter races and the 100-meter hurdles. Like the decathlon, the heptathlon is held over two days. Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who dominated the heptathlon during the 1990s, is the best-known athlete in the event's relatively short history.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.