The gold medalist in the Olympic decathlon is considered the world’s greatest athlete, but what makes them so special?
The word for decathlon is of Greek origin, meaning “feat.” That’s exactly what competing in this Olympic event is, a tremendous feat. Since 1912 the winner of the Olympic decathlon is considered the “world’s greatest athlete.” It’s hard to argue otherwise, as no other Olympic event requires an athlete to be as physically capable as the decathlon does.
In case you haven’t heard of the decathlon, it is a two-day Olympic event in which athletes compete in 10 different athletic events. The decathlon originated from the ancient Greek Pentathlon. The first official decathlon was held at the 1912 Olympic games in Sweden, and has been an Olympic athletics program ever since. There are many reasons why Olympic decathlon athletes are special, let’s a look at a few.
They Must be Proficient in 10 Different Events
It’s no wonder the winner of the decathlon is considered the world’s greatest athlete. They have to compete in 10 different events in just two days! Most Olympians train their whole lives to be successful in just one.
You can get a perspective for just how great these athletes are when you compare them to the best athletes in individual sports. The current decathlon champion, Ashton Eaton, made US gambling news by setting a faster 400 meter sprint than Usain Bolt!
They Are a Select Few
Olympic decathlon athletes are a dime a dozen. Not many people are willing to put in the work to become masters in so many athletic events. Take a look at the past three Olympic Games and you will see many of the same Decathletes competing against each other.
Trey Hardee, the Silver medalist at the 2012 Olympic Games, also competed four years prior in Beijing. He failed to find much success in those games, but kept pushing until he found success. Leonel Suarez is another decathlon athlete that competed in the Beijing and London games. He managed to secure bronze medals in both.
They Get Hardly Any Breaks
Olympic decathlon athletes get about 30 minutes in between events. They might have to run 1500 meters in one event, and long jump in the next. No other Olympic event requires an athlete to compete in so many different events in such little time.
When you factor in the time it takes to properly stretch, rehydrate, and mentally prepare for an Olympic event, they get hardly any breaks at all.
One Event Can Ruin Them
Decathlon athletes are scored on all ten of the events they compete in. If they fail to perform well in just one event, they can watch their Olympic dreams disappear. For this reason, they must be extremely prepared in everything.
The best decathlon athletes are remarkably well rounded. Sure, they might not be able to sprint as fast as Usain Bolt, or throw a javelin as far as Keshorn Walcott, or jump as high as Ivan Ukhov. It doesn’t really matter. They are skilled in a wide variety of athletic events, and must be consistently able to perform at their best in all of them.
They compete in Much More than the Olympics
Chances are you’ve never watched a decathlon event outside of the Olympic Games, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Most successful Olympic decathlon athletes compete year round in many different events to stay sharp and test themselves against (most likely) future Olympic competition.
The current Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton has already competed in three major decathlon events since the last Olympic Games. He won first place in every one of them, fueling the discussion that he is indeed the world’s greatest athlete. Eaton is obviously a special talent, but it is normal for decathlon to compete in a variety of athletic competitions during the Olympic off-season.
There are many reasons why Olympic decathlon athletes are extremely special. It is truly one of the most grueling events in all of the Olympic Games, and requires a tremendous amount of energy from each athlete. If you’ve never watched the decathlon before, make sure to check it out this summer during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
What do you think makes Olympic decathlon athletes so special? Is there a harder Olympic sport? Leave your comments below, and make sure to check out GamingZion’s list of online sportsbooks in the US to find all of the best websites for betting on the Olympics!