Tokyo Olympics: What is the decathlon and how is it scored?

The winner of the Olympics decathlon is said to earn the title of the “world’s greatest athlete”.

Although that sounds like a pretty big deal, the decathlon often slips under the radar during the second week of the Olympic Games.

Australia’s Ashley Moloney currently sits second in the men’s decathlon after performing magnificently on day one of the event.

Today is the second and final day of the decathlon.

Here’s what you need to know about the event as Moloney vies for a medal.

Look back at our coverage of all the action from the Tokyo Paralympics

What is the decathlon?

The decathlon combines, you might have guessed it, 10 events, which athletes compete in over two consecutive days.

Decathletes win points in each event, with higher scores given for better results in each component.

The decathlon has appeared at every Summer Olympics since 1912.(AP: Matthias Schrader)

Whoever accumulates the most points after the 10 components wins the gold medal.

That moniker of “world’s greatest athlete” can be claimed by the winner as the event is the most exhaustive and demanding test of an athlete across track and field disciplines.

Only men compete in the decathlon at the Olympic Games, while women compete in the heptathlon (seven events).

Read more about the Tokyo Games:

  • What is the decathlon and how is it scored?
  • What are the classifications for the Tokyo Paralympics?
  • Goalball is unique to the Paralympics — here’s how it works
  • What is ROC in the Tokyo Olympics?

What events are in the decathlon?

On Wednesday, the 23 decathletes competed in the 100 metres, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400 metres.

Moloney’s great first day was capped by winning the 400m in a time of 46.29 seconds.

Today, the final five events will be held. These are:

  • 110 metres hurdles (10:16am AEST)
  • Discus (10:50am)
  • Pole vault (1:45pm)
  • Javelin (8:15pm)
  • 1,500 metres (10:40pm)

As a junior, Moloney was a champion high jumper and came to the decathlon with a strong background in pole vault.

But his elite sprinting ability saw him finish second in the 100 metres yesterday and perform well in the long jump.

Moloney’s distance running is less established.

With the 1,500 metres completing the decathlon tonight, Moloney’s results after the first four events of the day may indicate his medal chances.

Olympics essentials:

  • Best moments
  • Final medal tally

How is it scored?

There are no judges in the decathlon — each performance can earn a predetermined number of points based on a performance table.

This scoring system is made up of a complex set of formulas, but in short: faster, longer and higher equals more points.

So for track events, a faster time produces a greater score, and for field events, a greater distance or height produces a greater score.

For a full breakdown of how the events are scored, World Athletics has produced this 182-page document and Wikipedia has some helpful tables.

The top-three athletes going into the second day of the Olympic decathlon are:

  1. 1.Damien Warner (Canada) — 4722 points
  2. 2.Ashley Moloney (Australia) — 4642 points
  3. 3.Pierce LePage (Canada) — 4529 points

The current world record in the decathlon is 9,126 points, set by Frenchman Kevin Mayer in 2018 Décastar.

Related Posts