The combined events challenge

The combined events challenge

Star athletes have tried their hand at decathlon and heptathlon with varied results

The combined events challenge
Combined eventers are arguably the kings and queens of track and field. No wonder that some individual pros are trying their hand at the multis. We take a look at single eventers, who had a go at biggest challenge of them all.

Pole vaulters

Just four months prior to setting a 6.16M pole vault world record in January 2014, Renaud Lavillenie thought it’d be fun to give the ol’ decathlon a go. The Frenchman headed to Talence to compete in the IAAF Combined Events Challenge with the goal of breaking the pole vault decathlon best. He scored 6676 overall, but with a 5.47M pole vault stayed well below his abilities and the world best of 5.76m.

The man this record belongs to is Tim Lobinger, the first German vaulter to clear 6 metres. In 2003 he won the pole vault world indoor title, but back in 1999 thought he’d try his hand at the decathlon. He scored a decent 7346, setting aforementioned world decathlon best of 5.76M along the way, which any decathlete since is yet to beat.

In 1995, a year before being crowned Olympic pole vault champion, Jean Galfione scored a decathlon PB of 7415. The Frenchman also held the world pole vault decathlon best of 5.75M until Lobinger broke it four years later.

Three-time European indoor pole vault champ and 1987 world silver medallist Thierry Vigneron scored 7035 in Talence in 1987 (including a 5.62M vault).

Although her main event isn't part of the heptathlon, former pole vault world record holder Stacy Dragila would often kick off her season with a heptathlon. Her best score is 5488 from 1998.

High and long jumpers

Reigning world and Olympic high jump champion has a certain ring to it, but Derek Drouin recently announced he’s keen to mix things up a bit and compete in the decathlon at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. In 2010, the Canadian scored 6592 with a 2.22M clearance in the high jump. This year he improved to 7150 points, including a 2.28M world decathlon best (pending ratification)  – remember, this guy’s got a 2.40M PB.

On the women’s side, 2012 world indoor high jump champion Chaunte Lowe scored 5133 in a low-key heptathlon last year. She then contested the heptathlon at the Ibero American Championships in Rio, the official rehearsal competition for the Olympic Games. She only completed the first day, but jumped 1.93m in her best discipline.  Christine Stanton was a three-time Olympic high jump finalist. Her lifetime best in that event, however, was actually set within a heptathlon. The Australian jumped a PB of 1.96M en route to a heptathlon score of 5700 at a meet in Adelaide in 1985.

Sprinters and sprint hurdlers

Over the course of the last two years, Germany’s Cindy Roleder has won 100M hurdles world championship silver and Europan indoor and outdoor titles. Interestingly, all of those accolades followed after she announced in 2013 that she’d be trying her hand at the heptathlon.

Roleder scored 5665 in her heptathlon debut at the 2014 Hypomeeting in Gotzis and has since bettered her PB in every heptathlon she completed. Her PB now stands at 6055 from the IAAF Combined Events Challenge meet in Ratingen 2015. Her 100M hurdles best in a heptathlon is 12.84, while her overall PB is a neat 12.59. The world heptathlon best of 12.54 is held by no one less than two-time world and London 2012 Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill.

Former world 100m hurdles world record-holder Yordanka Donkova scored 6240 in a heptathlon in 1983, kicking it off with what was then a world heptathlon 100M hurdles best of 12.65.

The current 400M best is held by decathlon world record holder Ashton Eaton, who clocked 45-dead en route to his 9045 world record at the world champs in Beijing 2015.


So far this list is pretty dominated by jumpers and sprinters, but fear not, Barbora Spotakova is leading the charge on the throwers front. The two-time Olympic javelin champion and world record holder (72.28M) owns a heptathlon PB of 5880 from 2012 – scored just a month after winning Olympic gold in London. In the same meet, Talence, the Czech also set the javelin world heptathlon best of 60.90M, which still stands (surprise!). As if that wasn't impressive enough, she also completed a decathlon in 2004 scoring 6749.

Britain's 1984 Olympic javelin champion Tessa Sanderson tried out a heptathlon in 1981. Bolstered by a 64.64M javelin throw (note, with the older model), she scored 6125.

In October 1969, one month after making the European Championships finals in both the shot put and the discus, Switzerland's Edy Hubacher scored 7303 in the decathlon. Within that series, he achieved 19.17m in the shot put – just 17 centimetres shy of his lifetime best – and set a world decathlon best that still stands today, 48 years later.

World and Olympic javelin finalist Peter Blank of Germany scored a decathlon PB 7651 in 1990. Two years later, he completed another decathlon with 7425, including a a world decathlon best of 79.80M in the javelin. Interestingly, he also has an impressive high jump PB of 2.25M.

Distance runners

Having won four gold medals at the 1992 Paralympic Games, legally blind US athlete Marla Runyan turned to the heptathlon in 1996 in a bid to make the US team for the 1996 Olympic Games. She finished 10th with 5708, just 53 points shy of her PB, and ran 2:04.60 in the 800M.

She later moved to distance running and achieved great success, breaking national records, winning the 1999 Pan-American 1500M title, and making the 2000 Olympic final.