Decathlon Scoring System & Formula: How Does it Work?

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With a victory in Rio on Thursday night, American Ashton Eaton would become just the third man to ever win back-to-back decathlon Olympic titles.

Many are familiar with the general nature of the decathlon–10 events, one of the most grueling events of the Olympics, unbelievable test of versatility, winner gets the title of “World’s Greatest Athlete”–but the actual rules and scoring aren’t quite as well-known.

So how, exactly, does the decathlon work? Here’s a full rundown:

Order of Events

The decathlon consists of 10 events, which span two days of competition. It always starts and ends with a running event.

Day 1

100m Dash

Long Jump

Shot Put

High Jump

400m Dash

Day 2

110m Hurdles

Discus Throw

Pole Vault

Javelin Throw


Scoring System & Formula

In the decathlon, an athlete receives a score for each event, with the cumulative score from all 10 disciplines determining the final standings. Eaton holds the world record with a total score of 9,045 points.

Scoring is independent of other athletes. It’s not based on final position in each discipline, but rather an individual’s final time, height or distance. Here’s the complete formula:

Track Events: Points = a*(b-T)ˆc, where T is time in seconds, while a, b and c are set numbers unique to each event

Jumps: Points = a*(M-b)ˆc, where M is measured in centimeters, while a, b and c are set numbers unique to each event

Throws: Points = a*(D-b)ˆc, where D is distance in meters, while a, b and c are set numbers unique to each event

Note: You can click here (Page 24) to see what a, b and c equal for each event.

Scoring Tables

When following along, sometimes it’s easier to have a cheat sheet to ballpark how many points someone receives for a certain event. Here’s a helpful table to do that:

Event 1,000 pts 900 pts 800 pts 700 pts Unit
100m 10.395 10.827 11.278 11.756 Seconds
Long Jump 7.76 7.36 6.94 6.51 Meters
Shot Put 18.4 16.79 15.16 13.53 Meters
High Jump 2.20 2.10 1.99 1.88 Meters
400m 46.17 48.19 50.32 52.58 Seconds
110m Hurdles 13.8 14.59 15.419 16.29 Seconds
Discus Throw 56.17 51.4 46.59 41.72 Meters
Pole Vault 5.28 4.96 4.63 4.29 Meters
Javelin Throw 77.19 70.67 64.09 57.45 Meters
1500m 3:53.79 4:07.42 4:21.77 4:36.96 Min:Sec

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