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This article is about the track and field event. For other uses, see Decathlon (disambiguation).

The decathlon is a combined event in athletics consisting of ten track and field events. The word decathlon is of Greek origin, from δέκα (déka, meaning "ten") and ἄθλος (áthlos, or ἄθλον, áthlon, meaning "feat"). Events are held over two consecutive days and the winners are determined by the combined performance in all. Performance is judged on a points system in each event, not by the position achieved. The decathlon is contested mainly by male athletes, while female athletes typically compete in the heptathlon.

Traditionally, the title of "World's Greatest Athlete" has been given to the man who wins the Olympic decathlon. This began when King Gustav V of Sweden told Jim Thorpe, "You, sir, are the world's greatest athlete" after Thorpe won the decathlon at the Stockholm Olympics in 1912. The current decathlon world record holder is American Ashton Eaton, who scored 9039 points at the 2012 United States Olympic Trials.

The event developed from the ancient pentathlon. Pentathlon competitions were held at the ancient Greek Olympics. Pentathlons involved five disciplines – long jump, discus throw, javelin throw, sprint and a wrestling match. Introduced in Olympia during 708 BC, the competition was extremely popular for many centuries. By the sixth century BC, pentathlons had become part of religious games. The Amateur Athletic Union held "all around events" from the 1880s and a decathlon first appeared on the Olympic athletics program at the 1904 Games.


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