First athlete to win Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European titles and hold world record
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 run 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.
Born on July 30th 1958 in Notting Hill, London, of Scottish and Nigerian parentage, 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.
He was a top class performer at a wide range of events, with a silver medal at 4x100m relay and sixth at pole vault at the 1986 Commonwealth Games and bronze at 4x100m at the 1986 Europeans. He was fifth at long jump and the winner of the decathlon at the 1977 European Juniors. He took national titles at the long jump, AAA in 1977 and UK in 1979. Individual event bests: 100m 10.26 (1986), 200m 20.88 (1979), 400m 46.86 (1982), 1500m 4:20.3 (1976), 110mh 14.04 (1986), 400mh 52.14 (1986), high jump 2.14mi (1982), 2.11 (1980); pole vault 5.25m (1986), long jump 8.01m (1984), 8.11w (1978); shot 16.10m (1984), discus 49.10m (1986), javelin 65.38m (1980), new specification 64.04 (1988). Club: Newham & Essex Beagles.
He was awarded the MBE in 1982 and advanced to CBE in 2000, and was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1982.