Our very own Ben Gregory gives us a head start into the world of Decathlon…
I got into Athletics & the Decathlon by attending Vale of Aylesbury Athletics club nights on a Tuesday and Thursday night as a young teenager, then fell in love with the diversity in the events and different challenges in training. I’ve since gone on to represent my country in the Decathlon and break the national record in the event.
For those of you not familiar with the Decathlon, it’s not for the faint hearted. It’s the toughest, most gruelling of all the track and field events, 10 disciplines contested over 2 days.
Day 1: 100m Sprint, Long Jump, Shot Putt, High Jump & 400m Sprint.
Day 2: 110m Hurdles, Discus, Pole Vault, Javelin & 1500m Run.
Always the same events, always the same order. Athletes are awarded points for each performance and the individual with the most points after 10 events wins. I hope to break 8000+ points this year, so I need to average over 800 points per event.
All local Athletics clubs will have club nights that you can attend and try your hand at all sorts of events from sprints, hurdles, long and middle distance. Other coaches will be leading jumps and throws sessions, to help you learn the new techniques and skills required for a safe and successful performance. It’s a great social atmosphere and you can get fit whilst learning new skills and challenging your body in each of the different disciplines.
At the National Championships of the Decathlon there will be around 40 athletes who have all reached the minimum qualifying mark to enter the competition. Track and field club nights are your best opportunity to get involved and try out the different decathlon events, I wouldn’t recommend signing up for a decathlon without a bit of practice in each of the 10 events first.
Depending on the size of the club there may be lots of people. It’s worth heading down for a taster and looking out for a group that are doing the activities you fancy having a go at. Coaches lead sessions with 5-10 athletes all warming up doing specific drills together and then taking it in turns to perform the events and receive feedback. It’s good to have a few people in the group, as this gives you a chance to see how others are performing it and also gives you a bit of recovery between attempts.
Jessica Ennis has paved the way for young athletes to get involved in the multi-events and shone a light on the Heptathlon (female equivalent of the Decathlon) in recent years with her amazing performances winning the London 2012 Olympics and medalling in Rio 2016. There are many Athletics clubs across London. You can head over to the England Athletics website and use the club finder to access one near you. I can recommend Lee Valley, North-East London, as a great training centre, as it has indoors facilities track, jump and throws, as well as a fantastic gym. The athletics club that work out of Lee Valley is Enfield & Haringey AC.