Are decathletes the World’s Best Athletes?

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  • Mike Young
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    Mike Young on #14661

    Two days ago, I posted about a recent article in the Wall Street Journal that surprisingly featured 3 track athletes in its Top 10 (including Decathlete Roman Sebrle at number 1). Today, in some rare down time at the USATF Jr. Nationals I saw a related article that had a pretty interesting video of Bryan Clay going through the SPARQ testing protocol. The premise is that most athletes only do one o

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    davan on #70562

    I think a sprinter/jumper/hurdler with a good background in lifting/throws/plyos could do better on the SPARQ test, but decas seem to take the all around athlete title. I think hurdlers might be a little underrated by a lot of people though, along with elite cornerbacks and people like that.

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    utfootball4 on #70565

    Very fast 40yd dash and a nice vj. his agility test could have been better if he had on better shoes.

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    Chad Williams on #70569

    Clay is a machine. So methodical in everything he does, especially when competing. He is arguably the greatest thrower as a decathlete already. I would definitely have to agree that he can be considered as one of the world’s greatest athletes.

    He already is a great sprinter/jumper/hurdler with an excellent background in the throws/lifting/plyos. Other than a decathlete, who does this on a world class level?

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    davan on #70570

    Well those tests heavily favor power/speed, rather than fitness, mobility, etc. on top of the power/speed. Sprinters/hurdlers/jumpers would likely win the sprints, agility, standing jumps, even possibly some of the throws if they were the types that play football in high school or college.

    Remember Gatlin’s numbers. He probably had as much or more athleticism than any deca out there from a power/speed perspective. His jumps from high school with no real training or technique are better than some decas prs, not to mention his ability in the 100/110h/400.

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    Chad Williams on #70572

    Yeah, as far as current guys go, I could see Holliday putting up a better Sparq # than Clay, especially with the FB background and sprinting speed.

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    davan on #70573

    Mike,

    What do you think Gatlin could have done in the deca? I remember an interview a while back where Gatlin said he almost considered doing the dec because his estimated total was well over 8000 just based on numbers from high school and practice. He hj’d something like 6’8″ the first time doing it, at a dual meet, and almost LJ’d 25′ (may have even gone further, I forget) without a lot of training for it, not to mention he was obviously powerful and fast enough to dominate the 100/400/110mh and do at least alright in a couple of the throws.

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    Daniel Andrews on #70581

    Clay is a machine. So methodical in everything he does, especially when competing. He is arguably the greatest thrower as a decathlete already. I would definitely have to agree that he can be considered as one of the world’s greatest athletes.

    He already is a great sprinter/jumper/hurdler with an excellent background in the throws/lifting/plyos. Other than a decathlete, who does this on a world class level?

    No one at the world class level can do what a decathlete does. His VJ and acceleration compare with the best of any athlete at any sport in the world. His in competition 1500m while not superb would likely be better than almost any other athlete could run 1500m. While he may not be able shoot a basketball or a hockey puck or be able to kick a soccer ball with any skill without having considerable practice time devoted to it, just like the agility drills. The only athletes likely to come close to him are NFL Corners, Wideouts, and some running backs, along with some basketball players and soccer forwards/strikers. Clay would be one of the fastest players in the NFL or MLS, The highest jumper in the NBA, and one the best arms in Major League Baseball. That should be enough to quiet the critics who believe the NFL, MLB, and NBA have the best athletes. You would be hard pressed to find a player in those sports who could play all three sports and be succesful at track. Dave Winfield only comes to mind, but could he have been a successful decathlete or even succesful track athlete outside of javelin and possibly HJ?

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    Daniel Andrews on #70582

    Mike,

    What do you think Gatlin could have done in the deca? I remember an interview a while back where Gatlin said he almost considered doing the dec because his estimated total was well over 8000 just based on numbers from high school and practice. He hj’d something like 6’8″ the first time doing it, at a dual meet, and almost LJ’d 25′ (may have even gone further, I forget) without a lot of training for it, not to mention he was obviously powerful and fast enough to dominate the 100/400/110mh and do at least alright in a couple of the throws.

    He likely would have to pole vault at least 12′ and run the 1500m under 5 min to come close to 8000 points with some Clay like throws at his early collegiate sprint numbers. He likely would have been around a 6000 point decat total out of HS. Which would have put in the top 10 in the world for his age.

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    davan on #70589

    Yes, he would only PV 12ft if he did no more than maybe one workout. Give me a break about 6000 out of high school if he trained for it. He went 10.3 in 100m as his non-primary event out of high school. 10.3/13.mid/47low/7ft/25ft (given adequate technique in those two events) and so on would lead to a hell of a lot better than 6000. That’s an insult to the guy.

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    J Kilgore on #70592

    I think as long as he wasn’t deathly afraid of the event, with 10.3 speed and that ability to LJ he could fall on the pole over 12′.

    I think that only 6000 is a little low…even with just a briefing of what to do in all three throws and PV he still would score 6000. With the 100, LJ, HJ, 400 and 110H he would be around 4800, which would leave him 5 events to score 1200 points to be at 6000.

    So he would have to average 220 points for SP, Disc, Jav, PV and the 1500…which would be
    ~18′ for SP
    ~56’5″ for Disc
    ~7’10” for PV
    ~80′ for Jav
    ~6:00.00 f0r 1500
    I’m pretty certain that being as explosive and coordinated that he could perform much better than these marks. I’m not sure about 8000 out of HS, but easily 7000 and with practice and skill work certainly 8000 would have been reachable…

    I was bored earlier and figured out those marks…

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    winnesota on #70593

    I would probably say ‘skill’ athletes are probably better athletes than decathletes because they have ‘skill’

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    Daniel Andrews on #70596

    I would probably say ‘skill’ athletes are probably better athletes than decathletes because they have ‘skill’

    Speed is a skill last time I checked and Clay’s speed is better than 99% of those in the NFL, likely 100% of the NBA and MLB, not to mention European Championship Soccer strikers. Not to mention he ran his 40 time on grass compared to an artificial surface. His running, jumping, and throwing (all skills, he can jump 2 legs and 1 leg while many cannot do either skillfully) are just below those of world class specialists.

    There is no way I will ever compare an MLB fast ass to the same level as even a 5000 point decathlete, much less one who scores 8400 points. I am pretty sure the visual tracking of an elite decathlete is as good as any major leaguer and the hand eye coordination is likely there especially with a rotational thrower and pole vaulter. As for an NBA player, no way could any of them throw as far he can and who says he couldn’t learn to shoot and control force-output on the b-ball well enough to shoot and have the dexterity to dribble, again I think his vision will be there to pass, so that leaves us with NFL Wideouts and Corners. I think because Clay can throw and most of them likely cannot and he already runs and jumps with the fastest of them that he and every other 7500+ point decathlete is better than the best of them.

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    Daniel Andrews on #70597

    I think as long as he wasn’t deathly afraid of the event, with 10.3 speed and that ability to LJ he could fall on the pole over 12′.

    I think that only 6000 is a little low…even with just a briefing of what to do in all three throws and PV he still would score 6000. With the 100, LJ, HJ, 400 and 110H he would be around 4800, which would leave him 5 events to score 1200 points to be at 6000.

    So he would have to average 220 points for SP, Disc, Jav, PV and the 1500…which would be
    ~18′ for SP
    ~56’5″ for Disc
    ~7’10” for PV
    ~80′ for Jav
    ~6:00.00 f0r 1500
    I’m pretty certain that being as explosive and coordinated that he could perform much better than these marks. I’m not sure about 8000 out of HS, but easily 7000 and with practice and skill work certainly 8000 would have been reachable…

    I was bored earlier and figured out those marks…

    The only problem with your assumption is that he will match PR’s in his main events during a decathlon without training, learning how to pole vault 12+ feet is not easy to learn it takes considerable practice time away from throws and hurdling practice. Since Gatlin is strong in the Hurdles he wouldn’t suffer like someone who hadn’t, but also what would Gatlin’s HJ 4th event of day 1 and 400m 5th event of day likely be after 100m, LJ, and SP??? How do you think he’s going to perform in hurdles the next day?? He won’t just PR likely and we are talking juniors or seniors before 2005? So he’d be doing 110H at 42″ and not 39″. So he’d be 13.8-14.0 as a HS senior on 42’s on day 2 then he go throw discus then pole vault and then he’d throw javelin all with decreasing success most likely and then finally run 1500m. It’s not that easy. IF he specifically trained for Decathlon would he lose some of his abilities in his other events??? The answer is yes and would worsen his scoring potential, in my opinion, at least for someone who is a first time performer. A coach would have greater success just introducing events to him while working his main event group.

    His Javelin likely about 30-40m, His discus about 30-40m, his Shot 10-12m, and his Pole vault 2.5-3m, with his 1500m about 5:00-5:20. I’ve seen some really good kids come close 5300 points with minimal points in Pole Vault and the same throws points as I listed and I don’t think Gatlin is going to score more than 800-900 points than them when they go 11/14.5/49. He’d likely hj jump about 1.90-1.95m and we’ll give him 7.5m for LJ with a 10.4 100m and 13.9 110H at 42″ and 48s 400m. If he used senior level implements you could decrease him by another 5m for shot and 10m for discus maybe even more. So I gave him decent marks to include a 3m vault which is 9’8″ or so and a 115 discus with a 36′ shot and he doesn’t clear 7K with a 5:15 1500m.

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    Daniel Andrews on #70598

    Yes, he would only PV 12ft if he did no more than maybe one workout. Give me a break about 6000 out of high school if he trained for it. He went 10.3 in 100m as his non-primary event out of high school. 10.3/13.mid/47low/7ft/25ft (given adequate technique in those two events) and so on would lead to a hell of a lot better than 6000. That’s an insult to the guy.

    To get over 12′ or so with his speed requires at least turning on the pole. If you are talking HS implements then he’d get around 7K most likely under it, but with Collegiate or Senior implements he’d only get around 6k if that 2k discus or 16lb shot. He more than likely would be somewhere between 6200-6400 points as a HS senior and likely not as good by just training for the decathlon over his main event groups. There is a ton of motor learning and neural rewiring going on in having someone learn the events they are not familiar with that would take away from his other events and an introductory approach is better.

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