Decathlon 2000 › News › Decathlon 2000 blog: Phil Vassallo
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Decathlon 2000 blog: Phil Vassallo (3)

Phil Vassallo
Sep 01, 2010
Where Are the Women?
04.04.2010 16:46
Stretching the Sport
I know this is asking a lot from someone who already is stretched thin by providing so much great data on the sport. Still, it would be terrific to have the women's combined events on the same level of detail as the men's located right here at Decathlon 2000.
Suggestion: Create a Schedule Page
04.04.2010 16:42
Stretching the Sport
The IAAF has a combined vents schedule page, but it is limited only to Challenge events. It would be great if we could have a "Schedule" page at Decathlon 2000 for all international events.
The 10th Indoor Heptathlon World Championship in Doha, Qatar, next wee...
07.03.2010 15:41
Legends, Leaders, Lookouts
The 10th Indoor Heptathlon World Championship in Doha, Qatar, next weekend promises to be spectacular.

Drozdov (6300 last month) is as hot as a pistol. Kasyanov (6254), at 24, is improving in leaps and bounds. Krauchanka (6234) is capable of anything at any given moment. Suarez (5954), who captured silver in the Berlin World Championship and is a member of the youthful Cuban Trio (along with Junior Diaz and Yordani Garcia) is only 22 and primed for a breakthrough heptathlon performance, like his breakthrough decathlon performance in the Worlds. Pogorelov (6229), now 30, proved in Berlin with his bronze medal and his fourth-place finish in the IAAF World Challenge that he is still a player to be reckoned with. Clay (6371) is the reigning Olympic champion and heptathlon world champion, and Hardee (6208) the current decathlon world champion--enough said about their talent. Sebrle (6438), at age 35, might not have the speed he used to have, but he is a gamer and a downright inspiration to his fellow competitors. He is both remarkably consistent and full of surprises, so I dare not bet against my favorite athlete.

If these men are at peak health and give it all they've got while staying focused (i.e., not being disqualified in the 60 sprint or 60 hurdles, fouling out in the long jump or shot put, or no-heighting in the high jump or pole vault), then we can expect Dan O'Brien's 17-year-old record (6476) set in the inaugural world championship to fall.

Here's to a great event! Good luck to the Doha Octet!
Fournier's 1500 Is Entertainment!
07.03.2010 15:05
Legends, Leaders, Lookouts
I just read Robert Fournier's blog post of 6 March about his awesome feat of 3:58.6 in the 1,500 meters during an open race in Berkeley, California, in March 1985. What an terrific story! Thanks, Robert.

I wish that every decathlete would share some war stories from their competitions. Perhaps then Janek could collect them in a 10-chapter book, one for each decathlon event!
Cuba vs. Russia vs. United States!
08.02.2010 15:30
I've heard talk about Clay vs. Trey in an effort to hype the sport as it was in the Dan vs. Dave days.

Forget about that! What has really captured my imagination is the prospect of a triangular team meet with the top three decathletes competing from Cuba, Russia, and the United States. Here's how the meet would look, with the decathletes' personal best in parentheses:

CUBA, average age 22 (25,507)
Leonel Suarez, 22 (8,654)
Yordani Garcia, 21 (8,496)
Junior Diaz, 21 (8,357)

RUSSIA, average age 27 (25,500 points)
Aleksandr Pogorelov, 30 (8,528)
Aleksei Sysoyev, 24 (8,497)
Aleksei Drozdov, 26 (8,475)

UNITED STATES, average age 26 (25,863)
Bryan Clay, 30 (8,832)
Trey Hardee, 26 (8,790)
Ashton Eaton, 22 (8,241W)

How remarkable that Cuba and Russia are neck-and-neck. And don't let the superior American total points and Clay's prominence as Olympic and former world champion deceive you. The Cubans are as much on the rise as Hardee and Eaton, and Suarez, Garcia, and Diaz are super hungry. Look how young they are! Sysoyev and Drozdov are also peaking, and Pogorelov proved he could hit high marks at last year's world championship.

What a meet that would be!
Where Is Thorpe?
06.02.2010 04:28
Number Crunching
If we want to be historically accurate in tracking the world record progression of the decathlon, we would have to start with Jim Thorpe’s performance at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, when the decathlon was first contested. Using the 1984 scoring table which is still in use today for that meet 98 years ago, Thorpe would have scored 6,649 points: 11.2 – 6.79 – 12.89 – 1.87 – 52.2 – 15.6 – 36.98 – 3.25 – 45.70 – 4:40.1

The world progression listed on Decathlon2000 and other websites lists the following decathletes as world record holders using the 1920 scoring table:

Aleksander Kolmpere, Estonia: 12.3 – 6.59 – 12.92 – 1.75 – 55.0 – 17.0 – 39.64 – 3.40 – 62.20 – 5:11.3 (7,485.610 points – Helsinki, 1922)

Harold Osborn, USA: 11.2 – 6.92 – 11.43 – 1.97 – 53.2 – 16.0 – 34.51 – 3.50 – 46.69 – 4:50.0 (7,710.275 points – Paris, 1924)

Paavo Yrjölä, Finland: 11.8 – 6.54 – 13.97 – 1.85 – 52.4 – 16.9 – 37.31 – 3.30 – 56.70 – 4:41.1 (7,820.930 points – Viipuri,1926)

Paavo Yrjölä, Finland: 11.7 – 6.73 – 14.27 – 1.85 – 52.8 – 16.8 – 40.76 – 3.20 – 57.40 – 4:41.8 (7,995.190 points – Helsinki, 1927)


Based on today’s standards, the scores would be as follows:
Kolmpere, 1922 – 6,162
Osborn, 1924 – 6,561
Yrjölä, 1926 – 6,539
Yrjölä, 1927 – 6,665

These numbers show that Thorpe’s 6,649 was the world record from his crowning achievement as “the world’s greatest athlete” in 1912 until 15 years later, when Yrjölä eclipsed it by 16 points in 1927.

I know what the naysayers are thinking. The field implements were different back then, so the direct measurements to today’s standards just don’t add up. In addition, it’s impolite to compare decathletes of different eras. But here’s my point: Thorpe hardly had track and field experience as a 24-year-old athlete in a relatively new event, yet he was world class in several individual events, such as the high jump. Plus, his performance level against the world best at each decathlon event remains the highest of all time—78.4% efficiency! Doesn’t Thorpe deserve mention as the first world record holder?
A Decathlon Award System Proposal
06.02.2010 03:49
Stretching the Sport

Here’s a thought for the IAAF to consider. Why not recognize the diverse accomplishments of decathletes? After all, they compete in one-man track-and-field meets. They deserve all the collective praise that the athletics world reserves for all track and field athletic performances. Here’s a quick review of the current decathlon recognition program by the IAAF followed by a proposal for expanding it.


THE CURRENT AWARD SYSTEM

The IAAF now awards a total of $101,000 annually to eight decathletes who achieve the highest collective score for three Challenge events determined by the Federation. The payout is as follows:

· 1st place: US$30,000

· 2nd place: US$20,000

· 3rd place: US$15,000

· 4th place: US$10,000

· 5th place: US$8,000

· 6th place: US$7,000

· 7th place: US$6,000

· 8th place: US$5,000


Since the IAAF is not obligated to recognize decathletes at all, the decathlon community is grateful to the IAAF for its generosity. The major problems with this fine gesture, however, are:

• The IAAF hardly receives any publicity for granting this major prize.

• Too few excellent decathletes receive prizes for exceptional performances, especially in contrast with athletes in individual events.



THE PROPOSED AWARD SYSTEM

The IAAF should consider a 20-category award system amounting to prize money $107,500, not considerably higher than it currently pays. Needless to say, decathletes deserve more than this pool of prize money, but here I am advocating for nothing more than recognition of superior achievement in the decathlon. May the funds available to these exceptionally conditioned athletes continue to grow each year! The awards would go only to first place finishers, as most sports awards do. To ensure a wide range of high-caliber winners, the 20 categories will relate to significant decathlon performances for meets, groups of events, and individual events to acknowledge the exceptional mastery demanded of decathletes, unlike for any single-event performer.

The IAAF might also consider naming the 20 awards in honor of 20 decathletes who have distinguished themselves in the given category. This gesture would represent a strong connection between current decathletes and their legendary predecessors who blazed the trail for them. In some cases, the awards should probably have duplicate names, but to recognize as many decathletes as possible, 20 different names should be honored. The rationale for naming each award is described below. What is interesting about the names is that superstars in the sport appear alongside lesser known decathletes who also made an impact of their own. How fitting such a structure is for athletes who rate camaraderie among competitors as highly as their own performances.

Let’s present this idea to the IAAF. If they don’t accept it, at least Janek Salmistu of Decathlon2000 can list the 20 honorees.


THE PROPOSED SEASON AWARDS

The IAAF should administer 20 awards totaling $107,500 at a season-ending dinner in its headquarters in Monaco.


Jim Thorpe Challenge Award

• Amount:$40,000

• Honoring: The American whose victory in the first Olympic decathlon elevated the status of the event.

• Awarding: The decathlete who scores the most points over four IAAF Challenge decathlons (increased from three to encourage more decathlete activity).

• Tiebreaker: The current IAAF tie-breaking contingencies would apply.


Daley Thompson Highest Score Award

• Amount: $10,000

• Honoring: The Britain who broke the world record a record four times (8,622, Gotzis 1980; 8,704, Gotzis 1982; 8,743, Athens 1982; and 8,847, Los Angeles 1984).

• Awarding: The decathlete who has the highest decathlon score for the season.

• Tiebreaker: In a tie, the prize money would be split.


Roman Sebrle Consistency Award

• Amount: $10,000

• Honoring: The Czech who scored a world record 45 decathlons over 8,000 points.

• Awarding: The decathlete who scores the most decathlons over 8,000 in the season.

• Tiebreaker: In a tie, the decathlete with the highest total points for all decathlons over 8,000 points wins.


Kip Janvrin Participation Award

• Amount: $10,000

• Honoring: The American who participated in nearly 100 multievent meets in his 21-year career.

• Awarding: The decathlete who competes in the most Challenge events in a season.

• Tiebreaker: In a tie, the decathlete who competes in the most total decathlons wins.


Bob Mathias Unbeaten Streak Award

• Amount: $10,000

• Honoring: The American who won all 10 competitive decathlons he entered.

• Awarding: The active decathlete who at any point in the season has the longest unbeaten streak in IAAF-sanctioned decathlons (not necessarily Challenge meets).

• Tiebreaker: In a tie, the decathlete with the most consecutive Challenge win receives the prize.



Dan O’Brien Day 1 Performance Award

• Amount: $5,000

• Honoring: The American who has held the world record for 4,747 points scored on Day 1, for 19 years.

• Awarding: The decathlete with the season’s highest Day 1 score en route to an 8,000-point score.

• Tiebreaker: In a tie, the decathlete with the highest total score for the subject meet wins.


Dave Johnson Day 2 Performance Award

• Amount: $5,000

• Honoring: The American who has held the world record for 4,455 points scored on Day 2 for 18 years.

• Awarding: The decathlete with the season’s highest Day 2 score en route to an 8,000-point score.

• Tiebreaker: In a tie, the decathlete with the highest total score for the subject meet wins.


Guido Kratschmer Running Events Award

• Amount: $2,500

• Honoring: The German whose top running events score of 3,631 in an 8,000-point decathlon has remained among the top ten for the longest period, 30 years.

• Awarding: The decathlete with the season’s highest point total for the four decathlon running events en route to an 8,000-point score.

• Tiebreaker: In a tie, the decathlete with the highest total score for the subject meet wins.


Torsten Voss Jumping Events Award

• Amount: $2,500

• Honoring: The German whose top jumping events score of 2,867 in an 8,000-point decathlon has remained among the top ten for the longest period, 23 years.

• Awarding: The decathlete with the season’s highest point total for the three decathlon jumping events en route to an 8,000-point score.

• Tiebreaker: In a tie, the decathlete with the highest total score for the subject meet wins.


Russell Hodge Throwing Events Award

• Amount: $2,500

• Honoring: The American whose top throwing events score of 2,614 in an 8,000-point decathlon has remained among the top ten for the longest period, 44 years.

• Awarding: The decathlete with the season’s highest point total for the three decathlon throwing events en route to an 8,000-point score.

• Tiebreaker: In a tie, the decathlete with the highest total score for the subject meet wins.


Robert Coffman 100-Meter Run Award

• Amount: $1,000

• Honoring: The American whose 100-meter run performance of 10.38 in a 7,500-point decathlon has remained, after Bill Toomey, among the top ten for the longest period, 31 years.

• Awarding: The decathlete with the season’s best 100-meter run performance en route to a 7,500-point score.

• Tiebreaker: In a tie, the decathlete with the highest total score for the subject meet wins.


Robert Zmelik Long Jump Award

• Amount: $1,000

• Honoring: The Czech whose long jump performance of 8.02 meters in a 7,500-point decathlon has remained among the top ten for the third longest period, 18 years. (Daley Thompson’s and Torsten Voss’s duration in the top ten exceed Zmelik’s, but they are honored in other awards.)

• Awarding: The decathlete with the season’s best long jump performance en route to a 7,500-point score.

• Tiebreaker: In a tie, the decathlete with the highest total score for the subject meet wins.


Joachim Kirst Shot Put Award

• Amount: $1,000

• Honoring: The German whose shot put performance of 17.40 meters in a 7,500-point decathlon has remained among the top ten for the longest period, 41 years.

• Awarding: The decathlete with the season’s best shot put performance en route to a 7,500-point score.

• Tiebreaker: In a tie, the decathlete with the highest total score for the subject meet wins.


Igor Samylov High Jump Award

• Amount: $1,000

• Honoring: The Russian whose high jump performance of 2.22 meters in a 7,500-point decathlon, has remained among the top ten for the longest period, 23 years.

• Awarding: The decathlete with the season’s best high jump performance en route to a 7,500 point score.

• Tiebreaker: In a tie, the decathlete with the highest total score for the subject meet wins.


Bill Toomey 400-Meter Run Award

• Amount: $1,000

• Honoring: The American whose 400-meter run performance of 45.68 seconds in a 7,500-point decathlon, has remained among the top ten for the longest period, 42 years.

• Awarding: The decathlete with the season’s best 400-meter run performance en route to a 7,500 point score.

• Tiebreaker: In a tie, the decathlete with the highest total score for the subject meet wins.

Eduard Hämäläinen 110-Meter Hurdles Award

• Amount: $1,000

• Honoring: The Belarusian whose 110-meter hurdle performance of 13.57 seconds in a 7,500-point decathlon, has remained among the top ten for the longest period, 17 years.

• Awarding: The decathlete with the season’s best 110-meter hurdles performance en route to a 7,500 point score.

• Tiebreaker: In the event of a tie, the decathlete with the highest total score for the subject meet wins.


Razvigor Yankov Discus Throw Award

• Amount: $1,000

• Honoring: The Bulgarian whose discus throw performance of 55.00 meters in a 7,500-point decathlon, has remained among the top ten for the longest period, 30 years.

• Awarding: The decathlete with the season’s best discus throw performance en route to a 7,500 point score.

• Tiebreaker: In the event of a tie, the decathlete with the highest total score for the subject meet wins.


Wladyslaw Kozakiewicz Pole Vault Award

• Amount: $1,000

• Honoring: The Pole whose pole vault performance of 5.50 meters in a 7,500-point decathlon, has remained among the top ten for the longest period, 33 years.

• Awarding: The decathlete with the season’s best pole vault performance en route to a 7,500 point score.

• Tiebreaker: In the event of a tie, the decathlete with the highest total score for the subject meet wins.


Mikael Olander Javelin Throw Award

• Amount: $1,000

• Honoring: The Swede whose javelin throw performance of 75.56 meters in a 7,500-point decathlon, has remained among the top ten for the longest period, 23 years.

• Awarding: The decathlete with the season’s best javelin throw performance en route to a 7,500 point score.

• Tiebreaker: In the event of a tie, the decathlete with the highest total score for the subject meet wins.


Leonid Litvinenko 1,500 Meter Run Award

• Amount: $1,000

• Honoring: The Ukrainian whose 1,500-meter run performance of 4 minutes 5.91 seconds in a 7,500-point decathlon, has remained among the top ten for the longest period, 38 years.

• Awarding: The decathlete with the season’s best 1,500 meter run performance en route to a 7,500 point score.

• Tiebreaker: In a tie, the decathlete with the highest total score for the subject meet wins.

Change the Super Meet Schedule!
05.02.2010 17:56
Stretching the Sport
Somebody please help me understand the scheduling of decathlon meetings! The IAAF World Combined Events Challenge meetings are so poorly timed that they discourage participation. Take a look at the 2010 schedule to see what’s wrong with the picture:

1. 08-09 May: Multistars in Desenzano del Garda, Italy
2. 29-30 May: Hypobank in Gotzis, Austria
3. 15-16 June: TNT-Fortuna in Kladno, Czech Republic
4. 19-20 June: Erdgas Mehrkampf in Ratingen, Germany
5. 23-24 June: US Championship in Des Moines, USA
6. 26-27 June: European Cup in Hengelo, Netherlands; Ribeira Brava, Portugal; and Tallinn, Estonia
7. 28-29 July: European Championship in Barcelona, Spain
8. Late July: African Championship in Nairobi, Kenya
9. 11-12 September: Decastar in Talence, France
10. Late September: Oceania Championship in Cairns, Australia
11. Early October: Commonwealth Games in New Dehli, India
12. Late November: Asian Games in Guangzhou, China

Some of these dates are bunched together so closely, inhibiting decathletes from registering for multiple events. Few Europeans would take a chance at signing up for all four of these meets: Gotzis, Kladno, Ratingen, and the Euro Cup. They all occur within a month of each other. It would be virtually impossible for an American to compete in Ratingen and then the US Championship three days later. And look at that ridiculous gap in August: not a single Challenge meeting in a month when worldwide athletics should be peaking. Why are the regional championships spread all over the place? Why can’t the special meet organizers (Desenzano, Gotzis, Kladno, Ratingen, and, formerly, Alhama de Murrcia and Arles) talk to each other about organizing their events not to compete with each other or with national and international championship events? I realize that the national and international meeting organizers have less flexibility to coordinate their dates, especially since in some cases other sporting events may be involved. But the special decathlon meeting organizers can collaborate to create a really exciting decathlon season, much like the Grand Prix of auto racing or cycling, or the Grand Slam of tennis or golf.

If these meetings are to be considered a true challenge to decathletes, then why not space them three weeks apart over six months, beginning three weeks after the Indoor World Championship, this year on March 12-13 in Doha, Qatar. Here’s how the schedule would look, with another date fitting into the schedule:

1. 03-04 April: Multistars in Desenzano del Garda, Italy
2. 24-25 April: TNT-Fortuna in Kladno, Czech Republic
3. 15-16 May: Hypobank in Gotzis, Austria
4. 15-16 June: Erdgas Mehrkampf in Ratingen, Germany
5. 23-24 June: US Championship in Des Moines, USA
6. 03-04 July: European Cup in Hengelo, Netherlands; Ribeira Brava, Portugal; and Tallinn, Estonia
7. 28-29 July: European Championship in Barcelona, Spain
8. Late July: African Championship in Nairobi, Kenya
9. 21-22 August: Arles, France? Alhama de Murcia, Spain?
10. 11-12 September: Decastar in Talence, France
11. Late September: Oceania Championship in Cairns, Australia
12. Early October: Commonwealth Games in New Dehli, India
13. Late November: Asian Games in Guangzhou, China

Such a schedule would promote the concept of a true decathlon league, one that would spark greater interest internationally. Elite decathletes would be able to choose from 8-9 events evenly distributed throughout the season calendar. The IAAF can then reasonably expect to increase the Combined Events Challenge winner to successfully complete four decathlons, not three as is currently required.

Of course, the schedule would require adjusting each season to accommodate the national and international championships, but such a nominal effort would be worth the potentially increased coverage the decathlon would receive. Let's do it!
Thanks, Janek Salmistu!
05.02.2010 15:28
Legends, Leaders, Lookouts
I have been a decathlon fan ever since I read my first book, about Jim Thorpe, in elementary school in the Bronx, New York, nearly 50 years ago. But from those days until Decathlon2000 surfaced on the Internet, I would have to wait every four years until the Olympics to get any news about decathlon events--and then I would learn only snippets of information about American decathletes like Bill Toomey, Bruce Jenner, and Dan O'Brien. Names like Joachim Kirst, Ryszard Skowronek, Guido Kratschmer, Nikolai Avilov, Daley Thompson, and Erki Nool were little more than footnotes--if they were mentioned at all--in these single-paragraph news stories.

Then in walked Janek Salmistu to Cyberspace, and everything changed. My favorite sport became instantly accessible to me 24/7. I am now connected not only to stats, event updates, and decathlete news, but I even get the privilege of perspectives on the sport from super decathletes past and present like Kip Janvrin and Trey Hardee. This latter benefit, in my view, exceeds anything that other websites make available. How would any of these pleasures be possible with Janek? Thank you many times, Mr. Salmistu, for your commitment to the sport and passion for sharing your wealth of information with the world. Keep Decathlon 2000 going and growing!

Comments (3)

tom wrote on Aug 11, 2011
I echo Legends, leaders. lookouts in the above blog. thank you thank you thank you. i hit it everyday regardless of it being an Olympic year or not. i have been attempting to update my favorite childhood game "The Decathlon" with the 50 greatest decathletes. i enjoy all the research and this site obviously is home base for the project. keep up the great work Janek.
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Janek Salmistu wrote on Aug 11, 2011
Thank you for your kind words! I will do my best like always...
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Phil Vassallo wrote on Mar 13, 2014
Is anyone but me wondering why Ashton Eaton, who is arguably the most talented decathlete in history, is walking away from the multievents discipline for an entire outdoor season at the peak of his career? Why isn't he interested in raising the profile of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge by competing in those sanctioned events? His aim of competing in the 400-meter hurdles this season seems counterproductive to strengthening his dominance in the sport.
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