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An athletic competition consisting of ten events. The modern decathlon is a two day affair with slightly different rules than normal track and field events. For instance, runners are allowed three false starts instead of two, and the maximum tail wind allowed for records is 4 meters per second instead of 2. As of now, only men compete in the decathlon (women compete in the heptathlon). The events in the modern decathlon:

Day One

  • 100 meter run
  • long jump
  • shot-put
  • high jump
  • 400 meter run

    Day Two

  • 110 meter hurdles
  • discus
  • pole vault
  • javelin
  • 1500 meter run

    The bizarre scoring of the decathlon relies on a series of tables to convert times and distances into points. Placing in an event doesn't matter - decathletes compete against a scoring table. For example, running the 100 meter dash in ten seconds is worth 1096 points, and a high jump of 2.39 meters is worth 1182 points. By converting to points, a tally can be made for the ten events and a winner can be declared.

    Due to the extreme difficulty of winning a decathlon, the Olympic champion is generally referred to as "World's Greatest Athlete".

    Czech Roman Šebrle hold the current world record for the decathlon with 9,026 points. Daley Thompson of Great Britain and American Bob Mathias are the only two-time gold medalists in the Olympic decathlon.

         Olympic Decathlon Champions
      Year Name                           Points  
      1904 Thomas Kiely, Ireland            6036  
      1912 Jim Thorpe, United States        8412  
      1920 Helge Lövland, Norway            6803  
      1924 Harold Osborn, United States     7711  
      1928 Paavo Yrjölä, Finland            8053  
      1932 Jim Bausch, United States        8462  
      1936 Glenn Morris, United States      7900  
      1948 Bob Mathias, United States       7139  
      1952 Bob Mathias, United States       7887  
      1956 Milt Campbell, United States     7937  
      1960 Rafer Johnson, United States     8392
      1964 Willi Holdorf, Germany           7887
      1968 Bill Toomey, United States       8193
      1972 Nikolai Avilov, Soviet Union     8454
      1976 Bruce Jenner, United States      8617
      1980 Daley Thompson, Great Britain    8495
      1984 Daley Thompson, Great Britain    8798
      1988 Christian Schenk, East Germany   8488
      1992 Robert Zmelik, Czechoslovakia    8611  
      1996 Dan O'Brien, United States       8824
      2000 Erki Nool, Estonia               8641
      2004 Roman Šebrle, Czech Republic     8893 
      2008 Bryan Clay, United States        8791

    Decathlon is also an aptly titled game by Activision for the Atari 2600. Up to four players compete in the ten events of the decathlon. Running was done by whipping the joystick rapidly back and forth, and jumping was performed with the button. If you scored enough points, and sent a Polaroid of your final score to Activision, they sent you back a medal. Of course, you probably also got open cuts on your palms from joystick abrasion.

    If you've still got an Atari and copy of Decathlon, you can try out this trick... In the pole vault event, after you let go of the pole, continue tapping the button. Your little decathlete will ascend much higher than he normally would, enabling you to rack up huge points.

  • Atari 2600 Game
    Produced by: Activision
    Model Number: AZ030
    Atari Rarity Guide:3 Scarce
    Year of Release: 1983

    Good old Decathalon for the Atari 2600. This is one of those games that you keep playing and playing, because you get just a tiny bit better every time you play. All 10 events are represented, (event list in node above). At its heart Decathalon for the Atari is just about timing your presses on that red button. But it seems like so much more. This is a great multiplayer game, (for up to 4 players).

    You could get a patch from Activision if you got a score of 8,600 points. 10,000 points would get you a Gold Medal patch.

    David Crane's Personal High Scores, (the programmer of this game).
    EVENT                     SCORE                PERFORMANCE
    100-Meter Dash             991                  10.29 seconds
    Long Jump                 1148                   8.66 meters
    Shot Put                   949                  17.81 meters
    High Jump                 1025                   2.2 meters
    400-Meter Race             989                  46.2 seconds
    110-Meter Hurdles          937                  14.19 seconds
    Discus Throw              1052                  60.75 meters
    Pole Vault                1052                   5.0 meters
    Javelin Throw              996                  80.68 meters
    1500-Meter Race            994                  3:41.00
           TOTAL            10,133 points

    Try downloading this game and seeing if you can beat David Crane's high scores.

    This game is valued at around $3 USD, (white label version is worth $20). Games with boxes and manuals are worth more.


    This is a "How-To" on "Decathlon". But if you came here for information on how to train for a Decathlon, I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed!!

    Fact 1

    I had Decathlon for my Atari 400 (and Atari 800XL and Atari 130XE) computers. And as others have mentioned, it was a great game that you just kept coming back for more, just to try and score one more point in each event!

    Fact 2

    I was a member of an electronics club in my school (yes, I'm a geek). We learned the basics of electronic components and "building block" circuitry. Including multivibrators.

    Fact 3

    I was a subscriber to Atari User magazine. This was for a number of years the only mainstream magazine in the UK dedicated to the Atari 8-bit computer range. On occasion, it would run a "series" of articles in consecutive magazines. And one of these was about controlling external hardware devices from your Atari computer - which was pretty simple because the joystick ports could easily be changed into output ports, giving you 8 on/off control lines. But as part of this, they had published the pinout for the joystick port.

    Benjy the cheating geek

    So, you can probably see where this is going.

    I built an astable multivibrator using the components from my electronics club. I then, using a joystick extension cable, connected it across the "left" and "right" pins of the joystick input. All I then needed to do was play with the resistors and capacitors in the circuit (which determine the period of the astable) until they sent pulses into the computer at the optimum rate for Decathlon to think I was running as fast as is possible! It also had a switch to connect the pins through to the joystick, so I could play other games!

    Somewhat like an "autofire" button on a joystick - but for running!

    Needless to say I set some amazing scores with this. I think at one point, I managed to score over 1000 in every event, although unfortunately I have no pictures or record of this. Of course, while it made the 3 straight running events (100m, 400m and 1500m) no-brainers, there was still an element of skill in the throwing and jumping events as your timing was crucial as well.

    Did I ever use this to cheat against friends? I couldn't possibly say!

    De*cath"lon (?), n. [See Deca-; Pentathlon.]

    In the modern Olympic Games, a composite contest consisting of a 100-meter run, a broad jump, putting the shot, a running high-jump, a 400-meter run, throwing the discus, a 100-meter hurdle race, pole vaulting, throwing the javelin, and a 1500-meter run.


    © Webster 1913.

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