Decathlete Daley Thompson
Daley Thompson

Born: 30 July 1938

Country: Great Britain

Decathlon is an event in athletics that is contested over two days and consists of ten track and field events. The winner is determined by points given according to the athlete’s performance in the ten events. When Jim Thorpe won the decathlon at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, King Gustav V of Sweden told him, “You, sir, are the world’s greatest athlete.” Since then the title of “World’s Greatest Athlete” is given to the man who wins the decathlon. Daley Thompson won it twice, in 1980 and 1984. He is one of only two people to achieve this marvellous feat.

In 1978, Daley finished second in the European Championships. For the next nine years he never lost a decathlon. By winning in the World Championships in 1983, Daley became the first decathlete to hold the Olympic, World and European titles.

Daley Thompson at 1984 Summer Olympics
Daley Thompson stands atop the podium with his gold medal in the 1984 Summer Olympics

Daley created news on and off the track. Thompson infamously whistled the British national anthem after receiving his gold medal at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. After his victory in those games, he was greeted by Princess Anne. When asked by the reporters about what did she say, he replied, “She said I’m a damn good looking guy.” He went on to say that he intended to have children and when he was asked with whom, he replied, “You’ve just mentioned the lady. And the answer to the second question is: she said – “I hope they’ll be white.””

He might have been irreverent but Daley Thompson was invincible for nine years in the most difficult event in track and field and is considered by many as the greatest decathlete the world has ever seen.

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