The Olympics are officially upon us, a place where some of the best athletes in the world compete against one another. This event allows for American icons to showcase their abilities against some of the best in the world in their respective sport. During the Olympics, the US always wants to come back with the most gold medals to solidify our place as having the best athletes.
People watch remarkable performances by great athletes like Michael Phelps, who coveted 8 gold medals in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Team USA in soccer and basketball, track stars like Alyson Felix and Tyson Gay and Usain Bolt who showcase remarkable speed and agility, and astonishing performances by gymnastic members. With all these great athletes in one competing in one place, it may be hard to label which ones are the best athletes in the world.
Sure there are those who are the best in their respective sport, but does that necessarily make you the best athlete in the world? We idolize those athletes who are the best at one thing, but what about the people with versatility. I am here to make case for the forgotten athletes and those who could really be categorized as the world’s best athletes: the Decathletes and Heptathletes.
For those that don’t know, the Decathlon and Heptathlon consist of athletes who compete in up to 10 different track and field events. Decathlons are more for male athletes and Heptathlons are for female athletes. The Events are held over two consecutive days and the winners are chosen by the combined points from all performances. These events consist of:
- 100 meter run
- Long Jump
- Shot Put
- High Jump
- 400 meter run
- 110 meter hurdle
- Discus throw
- Pole Vault
- Javelin throw
- 1500 meter
- 100m Hurdle
- High Jump
- Shot Put
- Long Jump
- Javelin throw
These athletes have to go through more rigorous training than any other athlete to get prepared for the Olympics. Think about it, each event requires different training methods and your body has to be conditioned for all of them. This is by far the hardest Olympic event. They are one of the Olympics most demanding events and yet the most neglected. The spotlight is more so on the other track and field athletes than them, especially the sprinters. However, If you look at the history of this event you see notable prominent athletes. Athletes like Jim Thorpe (who is one of the greatest athletes of all time), Bob Mathias, Bruce Jenner from the Kardashians, and Dan O’Brien(who is the current Decathlon coach) are some of the more notable Decathlon champions of the past. On a side note, thanks to Bruce Jenner’s involvement in wanting to be at the Olympics and cheer on his Decathletes, E! Entertainment will do some coverage of the event and have a booth for celebrities and athletes to stop by an give interviews with Jenner as the headliner. According to E “The idea is to showcase the lighter side of the games, the parties or athletes whose personalities have broken through.” Sounds like trouble.
Some of the more notable Heptathletes are Jessica Ennis, Nataliya Dobrynska, and Louise Hazel. None of these women are American women but they are worth noting as who to watch for. The most notable Heptathlete is one of the greatest female athletes of all time, Jackie Joyner-Kersee (how many of you knew that?). To think about the training these women go through is remarkable. Take a look at the video below by Louise Hazel.
The Decathlon is an event you all should pay attention to because this could be an event America Dominates in. The team consist of 24 year old Ashton Eaton who recently broke the 11-year old world record and became the second man in history to surpass 9,000 points, and defending world champion Trey Hardee. This duo has a chance to set new world records in the Decathlon and be marquee names! If they bring home gold and silver, they will have plenty of marketing opportunities and could be the best Decathlon duo of all time. The decathlon once symbolized America’s ability to be the best across the board, and this year has a chance to put us back on the map.
The only thing against the arugument of them being the best athlete is that they don’t always beat the best runners and jumpers in the world, just the decathletes and heptathletes in their class. That is not to say that isn’t tough enough because even by beating their class, they are still close to World Record holders in each of the events they participate in and actually hold the record in some events. These are very dynamic athletes!
These are the greatest athletes in the world because of the versatility. No longer should their accomplishments stay in the dark, this is the year that they come to light. I will admit for myself that I knew little about Decathletes and Heptathletes before this year, but after learning more about them and the events they do, I have the up most respect for them. You should have respect for them too. You can follow along coach and Yahoo analyst Dan O’Brien for live updates on these events and other events at the Olympics with Yahoo’s dedicated Olympic website. Be sure to check out the Decathlon on August 8th and the Heptathlon on August 3rd in the Olympics. You will surely be entertained!
(Photos Courtesy of Andy Lyons/Getty Images AsiaPac and SHED Avenue)
This post originally appeared on S.H.E.D Avenue.