The decathlon requires proficiency in ten events — the shot put, discus and javelin throws; the long and high jumps; the pole vault; the 100 m, the 400 m and the 1500 m runs and the 110 m hurdles. The winner is considered the all-round athletics champion. In 1984, a British athlete, Daley Thompson, became only the second person in Olympic history to claim the decathlon gold twice.
Of mixed Nigerian and Scottish descent, Thompson first competed in the decathlon in the 1976 Montreal Games as an 18-year-old. He finished 18th! Four years later at the Moscow Olympics, he won the gold medal, finishing 150 points ahead of his nearest rival.
Till Thompson arrived on the scene, the decathlon was one of the least popular spectator events in athletics. Thompson changed all that with his colour and flamboyance. He made each element of the decathlon a drama in itself. He was a superb athlete, one who had dedicated his life to nothing but getting better and better in the event. The number of world-class decathletes shot up during the 'Daley decade'. A score of 8000 points was bettered over 500 times in the 1980's!
In the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Thompson was at his peak. He won the gold with a total of 8797 points, equalling American Bob Mathias' achievement of two decathlon golds. A year later, the IAAF adjusted the scores and Thompson was given the world record with 8847 points.