The Decathlon consists of four track and six field events held on two consecutive days in this sequence: 100m, long jump, shot, high jump, 400m, 110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1500m. The athlete is allowed three trials in the long jump and throwing events and a special rule applicable to the Decathlon (and women's Heptathlon) is that two false starts can be committed in the track events without incurring disqualification.
Placings are determined by the total number of points scored per the IAAF scoring tables. Several versions of these have been used over the years, the current version since 1985 (modified recently to take account of single centimetre measurements in the long throws).
The Decathlon entered the Olympic programme in 1912 and right away became the centre of fierce controversy. The event was won easily by Jim Thorpe (USA), who was later branded as a professional and whose name was deleted from the official results. It was not until some 70 years later that his gold medals (he also won the Pentathlon) were restored to his descendants.
Ever since the heyday of Britain's Daley Thompson, who won 12 consecutive Decathlons between 1980 and 1986 including two Olympic golds and one world title, a score of 9000 points has been a possibility. Dan O'Brien (USA) succeeded Thompson as world record holder in 1992 with 8891 points and Tomàs Dvoràk from the Czech Republic came agonisingly close to the target with 8994 in 1999.