What is the Heptathlon?: An Olympic Question You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask
32 women, including Brianne Theisen, wife of Team USA runner Ashton Eaton, will compete in the heptathlon. But what the heck is the heptathlon?
Canadian Brianne Theisen-Eaton, 27, is returning for her second Olympics, alongside husband, fellow Olympian and Team USA member Ashton Eaton. Both are favored to win gold, giving them the chance to become the first married couple in history to win gold medals for two different countries at the same Olympic games.
Theisen-Eaton finished in eleventh place in the Heptathlon in her Olympic debut in the 2012 London Olympics, but quickly soared to the top of the class, coming in second at the IAAF World Championships in 2013.
She is currently the top-ranked heptathlete in the world.
Ashton is favored to win gold for the USA in the decathlon, a triumph that would make him the first two-time decathlon gold medalist since 1992.
But the question remains: What is the heptathlon?
The heptathlon, is known as the “ultimate” all-round test and consists of seven events spread over two days which cover the entire range of track and field skills; competitors earn points in each event and the winner is determined by who obtains the most points. The first day is comprised of 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put and 200m run, and the second day includes the long jump, javelin and 800m run.
The women’s heptathlon was introduced in the 1983 IAAF World Championships and had its Olympic debut in Los Angeles in 1984. Prior to 1984, female olympians competed in the pentathlon, introduced in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The heptathlon predecessor did not include either the 800m race or the javelin.
And don’t worry if you can’t keep track of the scoring system. Designed by a Viennese mathematician, the formula are designed so that a pre-designated “standard” performance earns 1000 points.
Theisen is the Canadian record holder in the event, earning 6808 points in the prestigious Hypo-Meeting in Götzis, Austria in 2015.
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