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Abstract Details

Abstract Title

Are 10 individual disciplines = decathlon?! New empirical findings on an old problem

Abstract Theme

Sport development

Type Presentation


Abstract Authors

Presenter Michael Fröhlich - University of Kaiserslautern (Department of Sport Science) - DE
Freya Gassmann - Saarland University (Institute for Sport Science) - DE
Eike Emrich - Saarland University (Institute for Sport Science) - DE

Presentation Details

Poster Exhibition Site (Local): Red - 8        Date: 1 September        Time: 8am to 7pm        Presenter: Michael Fröhlich

Abstract Resume

Background: Olympic decathlon comprises the results of ten individual performances. The normative transformation of the performance in the ten disciplines from seconds, centimeters,
and meters into points, however, has been analyzed and shows that the individual disciplines do not equally affect the overall competition result (Fröhlich, Gassmann, & Emrich, 2015).
Methods: Data analysis was based on the data recorded for the individual performances of the 10 winning decathletes in the World Athletics Championships from 1987 to 2015 and the
Olympic Games from 1988 to 2012 (total n=210 world best decathletes). For each athlete, ranking, name, nationality, date of birth, year of competition, results achieved in seconds, centimeters, and
meters, points calculated for each discipline, as well as the total number of points were determined. Data sources included decathlon results published in "Leichtathletik" magazine, on the webpage
"Sports Reference – Sports Statistics Quickly, Easily & Accurately" (, and on the official webpage of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
Results: The currently valid conversion formula from 1985 for the run, jump, and throw disciplines prefers the sprint and jump disciplines, while penalizing the athletes performing in
the 1500-m run, javelin throw, discus, and shot put disciplines. Furthermore, 56 % of the variance of the sum of points can be attributed to the performances in the disciplines 100-m and 400-m runs,
long jump, and 110-m hurdles. The long jump in men's decathlon is of special importance, reflected in the high variance clarification of 35% and explainable by the high degree of inter-correlation
with the disciplines of 100-m sprint, 400-m run, and 110-m hurdles. Physiologically, this can be explained by the high degree of speed, explosive strength, and speed strength in this discipline group,
which the cluster analysis with a two-factor solution confirms phenotypically as the sprint-jump type. At the discipline level, a high degree of individual and intra-individual variability concerning
athletes’ age and competitive performance has been observed.
Conclusions: To balance the effects of the single disciplines in the in decathlon, the now 30 year’s old formula to calculate points should be structural reevaluated. That applies
even though a normative specification of the transformation rule obviously can solve the equal weight problem only temporary (Trkal, 2003). However, the current rules should be adapted  (Westera,
References: Fröhlich, M., Gassmann, F., & Emrich, E. (2015). Wer ist der beste Mehrkämpfer der Leichtathletik? Eine analytische Betrachtung im Sieben- und Zehnkampf. In M. Fröhlich,
F. Gassmann, & E. Emrich (Eds.), Zur Strukturanalyse des Mehrkampfs in der Leichtathletik. Eine empirische Studie zum Zusammenhang von Leistung und Erfolg im Siebenkampf der Frauen und Zehnkampf der
Männer (pp. 65-100). Saarbrücken: Universaar.

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