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(dĭkăth`lŏn), in modern Olympic gamesOlympic games,
premier athletic meeting of ancient Greece, and, in modern times, series of international sports contests. The Olympics of Ancient Greece

Although records cannot verify games earlier than 776 B.C.
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, 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 pentathlonpentathlon
, composite athletic event. In ancient Greece it comprised leaping, foot racing, wrestling, discus throwing, and casting the javelin. The modern pentathlon, an Olympic games contest for men since 1912, comprises a cross-country horseback ride, a cross-country run, a
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, 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™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a classic track-and-field event for men, consisting of ten track-and-field events. Competition in the decathlon lasts two days: the first day consists of the 100 m dash, the broad jump, the shot put, the high jump, and the 400 m dash; the second day consists of the 110 m hurdles, the discus throw, the pole vault, the javelin throw, and the 1,500 m run. The winner is determined by the sum of points earned in all ten events; the number of points awarded in each area of the program is determined by a special table.

In 1970, W. Toomey of the United States set a world record of 8,417 points on the basis of the 1962 scoring system: 100 m dash, 10.3 sec (986 points); long jump, 7.76 m (972). shot put, 14.38 m (751); high jump, 193 cm (796); 400 m dash, 47.1 sec (943); 110 m hurdles, 14.3 sec (926); the discus throw, 46.49 m (809); pole vault 427 cm (876); javelin throw, 65.74 m (830); and 1,500 m run, 4 min 39.4 sec (528). In 1958-59 the Soviet athlete V. Kuznetsov held the world record in the decathlon.

The Olympic Games first included the decathlon in 1912, and since then it has been a standard event in all important track-and-field meets.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


an athletic contest for men in which each athlete competes in ten different events
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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