Sebrle crosses the finish of the 1500m to win the Decathlon (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News

Sebrle approaching unprecedented milestone - IAAF World Combined Events Challenge

The Decathlon is often seen as the most challenging event in track and field. Few athletes are able to compete in more than three competitions a year. Therefore not many athletes have been able to start in more than 50 combined events competitions during their career.

To pass this mark of 50 meetings athletes have to compete at least 12 years without any serious injury.  Until now, only 10 top athletes in the Decathlon – with a career personal best of more than 8000 points - have competed in more than 60 Decathlon/Heptathlon meetings.

In this sense the actual status of Roman Sebrle, the World record holder in the Decathlon, is quite unique. His participation in the Heptathlon at last month's World Indoor Championships, where he finished fifth, was his 98th appearance in a multi-events competition. His first Decathlon was in 1991, and Czech legend hasn’t missed a season since due to injury, which is rather unique in the combined events.

Only Kip Janvrin from the USA has equalled this number. During a career which lasted from 1983 to 2005, Janvrin started 97 competitions. In March of 2010 at age 44, he returned to the Decathlon to contest his 98th competition. The only other athletes who come marginally close – competing in more than 70 Decathlon/Heptathlon meetings - were: Tomas Dvorak (CZE) 78, Lennart Hedmark (SWE) 76, Jon Arnar Magnusson (ISL) 74, and Erki Nool (EST) 73.

Approaching 100th competition, and 700,000 points!

It is expected that Sebrle will make his 100th multi-events appearance this year, and so passing a unique milestone. Of particular note is the high level he has achieved over all these years. To date, he was competed in 71 decathlons and 27 heptathlons. Of those, he didn’t manage to complete only three decathlons and two heptathlons. In his completed competitions, he has tallied 540,149 points in the Decathlon and 152,758 in the Heptathlon, for a total of 692,907 points. To pass the 700,000 points barrier he’ll need a modest score of just 7093 in his next competition.

In the Decathlon he has scored an average of 7943 points. Considering that in his first 14 decathlons he did not score above 7150 his average is even more impressive. Since 1995, he as averaged 8290. In the Heptathlon – he was twice a World indoor champion - his average score is 6110 points; in 19 of his 25 heptathlons he scored more than 6000 points.

In all of his decathlons since 1996 the Czech has scored more than 8000 points, a mark he surpassed in 45 meetings. Moreover, he has broken the 8500-point barrier 20 times, and has topped 8800 points on six occasions. Quite simply, a record unparalleled. Coming closest is his fellow countryman, the 2001 World champion and former World record holder, Tomas Dvorak, with 35 competitions above 8000 points and 14 over 8500.

During his career, Sebrle has won 41 competitions: 29 decathlons and 12 heptathlons. This number is even more impressive as, since 1997, he started only in IAAF World Combined Events Challenge meetings (35 appearances and 14 victories), or indoor meetings at the top international or championship level. His victories include: The 2004 Olympic Games in 2004, the 2007 World Championship, the 2002 and 2006 European championship, the World Indoor Championship in 2001 and 2004, and the European indoor championships in 2002, 2005 and 2007.

Moreover he was also the winner of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2007, finished second in 1999, 2003 and 2006, and third in 1998 and 2000. He has competed a dozen times in the prestigious Götzis meeting, where he took the victory five times. In 2001 he set the current World record there, tallying 9026 points. He remains still the only athlete to conquer the 9000 points barrier.

No athlete in the world can show a record that comes remotely close to what Sebrle has achieved during his stellar career. And at 35, he has shown little sign of slowing. He intends to compete at least until the 2012 Olympic Games in London, and as he illustrated in Doha last month, Sebrle remains a medal contender for World and area championships.

Hans van Kuijen for the IAAF