Women to compete in decathlon?


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Women to compete in decathlon?

Postby BillVol » Wed Apr 23, 2008 7:48 pm

I guess this is the last hurdle yet to fall for "gender equity" in track and field. I think the women now compete in every event that the men compete in, except for decathlon. Anybody see women competing in decathlon in the near future?
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Postby Double R Bar » Wed Apr 23, 2008 8:10 pm

Yes!
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Postby Double R Bar » Wed Apr 23, 2008 8:12 pm

Yes!
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Postby polevaultpower » Wed Apr 23, 2008 8:54 pm

Women have been competing in decathlons for years. In WA the high school girls started in 2001.
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Postby BillVol » Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:43 pm

OK...

Women to compete in decathlon at the Olympics and WCs?
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Re: Women to compete in decathlon?

Postby trackhead » Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:58 pm

BillVol wrote:I guess this is the last hurdle yet to fall for "gender equity" in track and field. I think the women now compete in every event that the men compete in, except for decathlon. Anybody see women competing in decathlon in the near future?


100m hurdles?
50km race walk?
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Re: Women to compete in decathlon?

Postby bambam » Thu Apr 24, 2008 2:55 am

BillVol wrote:I guess this is the last hurdle yet to fall for "gender equity" in track and field. I think the women now compete in every event that the men compete in, except for decathlon. Anybody see women competing in decathlon in the near future?


I asked Zarnowski this a few weeks ago and he said the change from hep to deca for women has been shelved.
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Re: Women to compete in decathlon?

Postby Marlow » Thu Apr 24, 2008 3:42 am

bambam wrote:I asked Zarnowski this a few weeks ago and he said the change from hep to deca for women has been shelved.

That is sad news indeed. Why? I think it would add a lot of pizzazz* to T&F.

* no sooner had I written that word then I KNEW I had to know its etmology - this is what I found: "The OED’s first published reference is from Harper’s Bazaar in 1937, the year Vreeland arrived at the magazine as a columnist. Here's the citation: “Pizazz, to quote the editor of the Harvard Lampoon, is an indefinable dynamic quality, the je ne sais quoi of function; as for instance, adding Scotch puts pizazz in a drink.” "
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Postby gh » Thu Apr 24, 2008 4:10 am

I don't want to wax too strongly in an area where I don't have a lot of knowledge, but it has been my understanding that the biggest barrier to the switch has been powerful European coaches. Their main concern (again, as I understand it) is the learning curve w/ the vault.

But there may be more to it than that.
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Postby Marlow » Thu Apr 24, 2008 4:34 am

gh wrote:Their main concern (again, as I understand it) is the learning curve w/ the vault.

If that is true, isn't it the same learning curve for everyone? A good coach would welcome the change, as it would represent in increase in the need for technical proficiency, which is where coaches make the biggest difference.
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Postby decafan » Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:18 am

This represents a sexist attitude. There is not a shred of honor in any of the reasons given for no women's decathlon. Once the women's vault was ratified, the decathlon should have followed directly. It didn't. People don't think women can handle the grueling 10 events. Personally, I think it's one of the more embarrassing truths of our sport.
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Postby Cooter Brown » Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:40 am

I wonder if has more to do with making the current heptathletes irrelevant? Most think that they could transition to the dec but that may not be the case.
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Postby Stephen » Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:51 am

The decathlon really should be introduced soon, it's ridiculous. The iAAF really needs to set a plan, introducing it at the junior level, or as an unofficial event as they did with the TJ , or maybe hold an invitational meet outside champs for a couple of years. They have to do something.

They should also take the opportunity to re do the scoring tables when they do. The heptathlon scoring unfairly favours the sprinter/Jumpers, with the shot and JT being the lowest points scoring events.

There have been various papers published looking at a fairer points scoring system which displays uniform characteristics over all events. If done this way it interestingly has athletes like Turchinskaya, Shouaa, Braun and Jane Frederick further up the performance list than they are now - in two of three alternative models published by a Dutch University research paper, Turchinskaya has the higesht score of all time.

Considering the decathlon has 3 sprint events, 3 jumps events, 3 throws and 1 endurance, they need to ensure the throws are fairly weighted.
Women like Skujyte and Schwarzkopf who are way over 50m in the JT really do suffer in the points scoring.
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Postby marknhj » Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:58 am

This seems perfectly understandable to me. A coach should be concerned about their athlete, first-and-foremost, not any satisfaction teaching a new event gives them.

If you had an athlete who was in the top 20 in the world, would you want to risk that ranking, and the possibility of moving up, by introducing an event that is very complex to learn? Never mind the athletes at the very top. And, to learn it properly you'd have to focus on it at the detriment of the others. Just because these athletes are fantastic talents doesn't mean success at the PV is guaranteed, look at Sotherton in the javelin. If I coached a world class heptathlete I'd vote against it...
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Postby 26mi235 » Thu Apr 24, 2008 8:23 am

marknhj wrote:This seems perfectly understandable to me. A coach should be concerned about their athlete, first-and-foremost, not any satisfaction teaching a new event gives them.

If you had an athlete who was in the top 20 in the world, would you want to risk that ranking, and the possibility of moving up, by introducing an event that is very complex to learn? Never mind the athletes at the very top. And, to learn it properly you'd have to focus on it at the detriment of the others. Just because these athletes are fantastic talents doesn't mean success at the PV is guaranteed, look at Sotherton in the javelin. If I coached a world class heptathlete I'd vote against it...


It is perfectly understandable and, at the same time, a reason why they should not listen to them - they have a vested interest in the status quo that need not be shared by the sport at large. Of course, the suggestion that it be brought in on a timetable, possibly with the juniors first. However, I see the decathlon having its biggest barrier at the junior level, as it takes time to learn the standard seven events and the new events and so the juniors will not be very good at it throughout their junior career. For evidence of this, of course, you can look at how HS students have fared in the Olympic Decathlon.... :wink:
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Postby skyin' brian » Thu Apr 24, 2008 8:23 am

We all know that PV is the hardest event :wink: and that is why the women, coaches, etc are scared of it, but I bet discus would be pretty tough to learn as well.
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Postby decafan » Thu Apr 24, 2008 8:33 am

marknhj wrote:This seems perfectly understandable to me. A coach should be concerned about their athlete, first-and-foremost, not any satisfaction teaching a new event gives them.

If you had an athlete who was in the top 20 in the world, would you want to risk that ranking, and the possibility of moving up, by introducing an event that is very complex to learn? Never mind the athletes at the very top. And, to learn it properly you'd have to focus on it at the detriment of the others. Just because these athletes are fantastic talents doesn't mean success at the PV is guaranteed, look at Sotherton in the javelin. If I coached a world class heptathlete I'd vote against it...



Like I posted earlier; there is no reason given with any shred of honor.
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Postby Marlow » Thu Apr 24, 2008 8:36 am

marknhj wrote: If I coached a world class heptathlete I'd vote against it...

But isn't that the height of being self-absorbed? "If it's not good for ME, it shouldn't happen."

T&F purports itself to be non-sexist, but this and the 50W absence proves otherwise. (the 100H vs. 110H issue is irrelevant; women's strides are shorter on average, deal with it! :D )
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Postby gh » Thu Apr 24, 2008 8:57 am

Drawing on what other bright people said earlier (Stephen about points, throws being underrepresented; Cooter about making current people irrelevant), let's stop and think about the practical aspects of a change.

With the addition of another throw, and a jump that requires more upper body strength than previoiusly required, I would posit that the ideal somatotype is going to change a bit. And I don't necessarily mean the one you were born with; how you shape your body. Currently, male decathletes look nothing if not powerful. Many successful heptathletes, on the other hand, can get away with being "wispy."

So if we posit that a switch to the decathlon will mean a need to go in the "stronger" direction, that means changing your body type and making yourself less well-suited to the current event. So let's say a change is planned for the 2012 Olympics. That means you better start changing your body a year or two in advance, so you have to compromise your chances for the '11 Worlds (and maybe '10 Euros/Commonwealth).

On a related note, many heptathletes struggle, I'm sure, to find enough time to train adequately for 7 events. Training for 10 makes a bigger demand. Yes, it's a demand that the men handle, but it's already part of your program.

If '12 is a decathlon, how much of your incredibly valuable '10 and '11 time do you set aside to practice events that you don't need? You'd have to compromise your chances for those other years in that regard too.

If all that makes sense, then this is just a tad more complicated than it seems on the surface.
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Postby decafan » Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:05 am

Well that settles it then. No women's decathlon. Seriously Gary, there are logistical nightmares inherent to all major changes. That should never dictate whether or not the changes should be made. I'm kind of put of by your narrow minded view of this. I'd like you to work on your visionary skills. Are we or are we not looking for the world's greatest female athlete? If we are, then improving our criteria to better reflect the end goal should be the engine driving the train.
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Postby Master Po » Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:17 am

decafan wrote:Well that settles it then. No women's decathlon. Seriously Gary, there are logistical nightmares inherent to all major changes. That should never dictate whether or not the changes should be made. I'm kind of put of by your narrow minded view of this. I'd like you to work on your visionary skills. Are we or are we not looking for the world's greatest female athlete? If we are, then improving our criteria to better reflect the end goal should be the engine driving the train.


I guess this is another example of the different ways we can read and interpret other people's expressions, but I didn't see any argument from gh that changing to the decathlon should not occur. Nor could I identify any narrow-mindedness. Rather, his post seems to express in fact a vision of what an athlete's hept to deca transition would look like, and what sorts of changes it would take over an extended period of time, and what that would mean for possible intermediate (ie, between this OG and the next OG) goals -- all of that would be complicated for the athlete making that transition. Doesn't mean it shouldn't be done, as I read it.

Interesting thread, thanks to those who have posted.
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Postby KevinM » Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:20 am

Not to speak for gh, but it appears to me he's just laying out some of the complexities in the change that may affect the mindset of the powers-that-be and not necessarily shilling for the no-deca side.

Edit: LIke Master Po said.
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Postby gh » Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:50 am

decafan misreads me completely: I'm loudly in favor of the women's dec and have been for DECades.

I was putting my apparently deficient visionary skills to work here to try to explain the nuts & bolts of why the change is difficult.

You can't fix a problem until you really know what the problem is, and in this case it's not just a simple matter of saying, "hey, we got a new event for you."
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Postby mump boy » Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:59 am

i think you just announce it's going to be Deca from say 2016. it gives people advance waring and you can introduce it at smaller events before. there is no excuse in this day ans age for different events for men and women.

and while they're at it they can have equal distances at XC
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Postby Pego » Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:31 am

decafan wrote:Well that settles it then. No women's decathlon. Seriously Gary, there are logistical nightmares inherent to all major changes. That should never dictate whether or not the changes should be made. I'm kind of put of by your narrow minded view of this. I'd like you to work on your visionary skills. Are we or are we not looking for the world's greatest female athlete? If we are, then improving our criteria to better reflect the end goal should be the engine driving the train.


Decafan, a question for you.
Would you be in favor of the deca identical to that of men, or modified (100H, 800)?
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Postby decafan » Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:35 am

Nope. I didn't misread anything. I get very frustrated when people who say they're in favor of big ideas or major changes don't jump over the obvious complications and problems and move on to solution-based comments and ideas. Don't tell me why it might not work. Tell my how it can work.
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Postby gh » Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:50 am

Based on the preceding discussion, the complications were not "obvious," and I felt they needed spelling out better. Sorry if that offends you.
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Re: Women to compete in decathlon?

Postby Mennisco » Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:54 am

BillVol wrote:I guess this is the last hurdle yet to fall for "gender equity" in track and field.


Decathlon with 2'6" 110 hurdles = last hurdle cleared for gender equity.. :P
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Postby Marlow » Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:03 am

decafan wrote:there are logistical nightmares inherent to all major changes.

To me, that's it in a nutshell. Most people are averse to change, but that doesn't mean that change isn't good. And this isn't change for change's sake; It's to move women into the 20th (i.e., last) century in terms of equality.

We could come up with all sorts of reasons and rationalizations why it's too hard to do, but since it's the 'right' thing to do, those arguments are reactionary, not progressive.

There should obviously be Fair Warning, but now is the time to do it. The 2012 OG might indeed be 'too early', but 2016 is certainly NOT. I'd shoot for the 2015 WC.
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Postby SQUACKEE » Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:07 am

I believe the last hurdle is woman throwing 16 lb. shots. i mean come on! Lets stop being so sexist! :P
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Postby Marlow » Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:10 am

SQUACKEE wrote:I believe the last hurdle is woman throwing 16 lb. shots. i mean come on! Lets stop being so sexist! :P

I know you meant that tongue-in-cheek, but that is not equality. The 16 lb-er for women would require much less technique and far more brute strength than the men's event.
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Postby SQUACKEE » Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:12 am

Marlow wrote:
SQUACKEE wrote:I believe the last hurdle is woman throwing 16 lb. shots. i mean come on! Lets stop being so sexist! :P

I know you meant that tongue-in-cheek, but that is not equality. The 16 lb-er for women would require much less technique and far more brute strength than the men's event.


Im as serious as a heart attack and you are nothin but a sexist pig! Mojo, help me out here.
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Postby Marlow » Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:55 am

SQUACKEE wrote:Im as serious as a heart attack and you are nothin but a sexist pig! Mojo, help me out here.

Yeah, hide behind mojo's skirts. C'mon out, you girlie-man (who invented that phrase? :D ). Bring it, baby! :twisted:
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Postby mojo » Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:56 am

SQUACKEE wrote:
Marlow wrote:
SQUACKEE wrote:I believe the last hurdle is woman throwing 16 lb. shots. i mean come on! Lets stop being so sexist! :P

I know you meant that tongue-in-cheek, but that is not equality. The 16 lb-er for women would require much less technique and far more brute strength than the men's event.


Im as serious as a heart attack and you are nothin but a sexist pig! Mojo, help me out here.


Mojo can not help you out as she can barley lift that damn thing. :shock:

I like the idea of bringing the Dec in at a future date-like 2016 and phasing it in with the Juniors first.


I AM glad it was the pentathlon when I competed. 8) :lol:

Hilarious now to think how easy it was and yet how the word "gruelling" was often adjective used to describe it. LOL.

Sorry Squack-I am a sexist sow. :o
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Postby hammer forever » Thu Apr 24, 2008 4:27 pm

maybe USA Prez Hillary can get us sensible health insurance AND a decathlon for women.... :P
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Postby Stephen » Fri Apr 25, 2008 1:40 am

gh wrote: With the addition of another throw, and a jump that requires more upper body strength than previoiusly required, I would posit that the ideal somatotype is going to change a bit.

On a related note, many heptathletes struggle, I'm sure, to find enough time to train adequately for 7 events. Training for 10 makes a bigger demand. Yes, it's a demand that the men handle, but it's already part of your program.

If '12 is a decathlon, how much of your incredibly valuable '10 and '11 time do you set aside to practice events that you don't need? You'd have to compromise your chances for those other years in that regard too.

If all that makes sense, then this is just a tad more complicated than it seems on the surface.


I dont really agree. Take the example of Tia Hellebaut and Heike Drechsler, or to a lesser extent Jean Galfione. Athletes that trained for a specific event but were able to introduce enough other event training to enable them to produce good, or great, multievents. In Tia's case she may never have really stopped multi event training while specialising in the HJ, but if so, even more evidence that an athlete can have the necessary level in various events. Drechsler was able to jump 7.29 in 94 while introducing new events, and did enough training to set a world lead in the heptathlon. One years training and she still threw over 40m in the JT (take note Kelly). Galfione did an ok 7400+ Dec while still being able to medal at a world champs in the PV. So, I just think if the athlete is good enough they will be able to incorporate training in other events without too much trouble.

All athletes do a variety of training that alludes to all round ability...30m sprints, overhead throws, 5 step jump, jumping over hurdles etc etc. Obviously not the technical level needed to throw a discus or polevault, but enough to be 'athletic' and have a core base. And as you say, male decathletes have been doing it for years
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Postby gh » Fri Apr 25, 2008 6:09 am

Frank Zarnowski's take:

<<There appears to be little interest in the women's dec both
internationally and in US. Virtually every (exception being Austra) top
heptathletes responded that they would have no intention of continuing
as a multi eventer if the change occurred (7 to 10 events) I think many
who were proposing it we taken aback.

Good egs were Kluft and (a few years ago) a very adamant Barber who was particularly vocal. The impact of Kluft on heptathlon in Sweden has been overwhelmingly positive (interest, # of entrants at nationals, age group stuff) that they don't want to ruin a good thing.

2nd reason is that the directors of the major international
invitationals (MultiStars, Hypo-Bank and DecaStar) strongly resist b/c it
would make it more difficult for them to fit into their schedule and
they worry about how to sell women jumping 8-6 in vault and running 6:00+ in 1500 and then call them the best athletes. That's a hard sell.>>

(if Frank's name not familiar to you, he's generally regarded as one of the event's greatest statisticians ever and has written a great history of some of the event's leading figures) (note that he's just the messenger here, not a guy expressing an agenda of any kind)
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Postby Cooter Brown » Fri Apr 25, 2008 6:24 am

There needs to be a way to introduce the dec at the junior level while maintaining the hep at the senior level for a limited time.

-Maybe ban the hep at the junior level and only have the dec.
-Bar athletes who have not represented their country internationally in the hep from entering WC/OGs.
-Run both events for a few years and once the hep WC/OG entry pool drops below, say 10 with an A qualifier, then announce a final hep championship the next season and then it goes away.

Not perfect but I'm sure some smart guys could come up with something that works.
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multi discus

Postby bushop » Fri Apr 25, 2008 6:28 am

skyin' brian wrote:We all know that PV is the hardest event :wink: and that is why the women, coaches, etc are scared of it, but I bet discus would be pretty tough to learn as well.


Oh my ... I wish there was discus in the hept. Those women would rip the disc. Of the four throwing events our multis would be best suited for the discus. But many of our students are taller than average, lots of Friesians.
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Postby decafan » Fri Apr 25, 2008 6:51 am

Frank is right of course. So is Gary. All politics are local, so lets just accept that modern stakeholders (past and present heptathletes, coaches, meet promoters) will resist the women's decathlon movement. Let's accept that some will resist strongly. But let us look for and thoroughly consider the honorable reasons and not the self-serving ones. Let us also consider this: Somewhere in the world there is a young girl going about her day in a normal way. She and most of the world are oblivious to this debate- this debate that will determine if she is to fulfill her destiny as the greatest women's decathlete of all-time. The next Babe Didrikson, Jackie Joyner-Kearsey or Yelena Isinbayeva. The one that will bring track and field fans such joy and exhilaration. The one that will have the pundits musing, "I guess they were right. Women can and should do the decathlon." This debate is for that girl and the vibrant and relevant future of our sport. History is already judging this.
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