It was fifty years ago today- October 19, 1968- at the Mexico City Olympics- the winner of the Decathlon at least used to be billed as the world’s greatest athlete. The event is a grueling two day competition consisting of ten different events. To win the event you need to be a great all around athlete. The ten events- 5 on the first day-100 metres/ long jump/ high jump/ 400 metres. On day 2- 110 metre hurdles/ discus throw/ pole vault/javelin throw and at the end the 1500 metres.
American Bill Toomey won the gold medal finishing ahead of West German Hans Joachim-Walde who took the silver and West German Kurt Bendlin who took the bronze. American traditionally has done well in this event- 1968 was no different- Tom Waddell finished 6th and Rick Sloan 7th. Toomey was one of the great decathlon champions -over the years he won 23 of the 38 that he competed in. Wide World Of Sports named him their Athlete Of The Year in 1968 and in 1969 he won the Sullivan Award which is awarded to the top amateur athlete in the United States. A part of the story that makes his accomplishments even more amazing is Toomey had a partially paralyzed hand which made the discus and javelin throw all the more difficult.