A heptathlon is a track and field combined events contest made up of seven events.[1] The name derives from the Greek hepta (seven) and ἄθλος (áthlos, or ἄθλον, áthlon, meaning "feat"). A competitor in a heptathlon is referred to as a heptathlete.

There are two heptathlons – the women's heptathlon and the men's – composed of different events. The men's heptathlon is older and is held indoors, while the women's is held outdoors and was introduced in the 1980s, first appearing in the Olympics in 1984.

Women's heptathlon

Tatyana Chernova, Jessica Ennis and Lilli Schwarzkopf racing in the final 800 m event at the 2012 Olympic heptathlon

Women's heptathlon is the combined event for women contested in the athletics programme of the Olympics and at the IAAF World Championships. The IAAF Combined Events Challenge determines a yearly women's heptathlon champion. The women's outdoor heptathlon consists of the following events, with the first four contested on the first day, and the remaining three on day two:

The heptathlon has been contested by female athletes since the early 1980s, when it replaced the pentathlon as the primary women's combined event contest (the javelin throw and 800 m were added).[citation needed] It was first contested at the Olympic level in the 1984 Summer Olympics. In recent years some women's decathlon competitions have been conducted, consisting of the same events as the men's competition in a slightly different order, and the IAAF has begun keeping records for it, but the heptathlon remains the championship-level combined event for women. Nafissatou Thiam, representing Belgium, is the 2016 Olympic Gold Medallist, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, representing Great Britain, is the current World Champion.

There is also a Tetradecathlon, which is a double heptathlon, consisting of 14 events, seven events per day.

Points system

The heptathlon scoring system was devised by Dr Karl Ulbrich, a Viennese mathematician. The formulae are constructed so that, for each event, a designated "standard" performance (for example, approximately 1.82 m for the high jump) scores 1000 points.[2] Each event also has a minimum recordable performance level (e.g. 0.75 m for the high jump), corresponding to zero points. The formulae are devised so that successive constant increments in performance correspond to gradually increasing increments in points awarded.

The events are split into three groups, and the scores are calculated according to the three formulae:[3]

Running events (200 m, 800 m and 100 m hurdles):
Jumping events (high jump and long jump):
Throwing events (shot put and javelin):

P is for points, T is for time in seconds, M is for height or length in centimeters and D is length in meters. a, b and c have different values for each of the events, as follows:

Event a b c
200 metres 4.99087 42.5 1.81
800 metres 0.11193 254 1.88
100 metres hurdles 9.23076 26.7 1.835
High jump 1.84523 75.0 1.348
Long jump 0.188807 210 1.41
Shot put 56.0211 1.50 1.05
Javelin throw 15.9803 3.80 1.04


The following table shows the benchmark levels needed to earn 1000, 900, 800 and 700 points in each event.

Event 1000 pts 900 pts 800 pts 700 pts Unit
100 m hurdles 13.85 14.56 15.32 16.12 Seconds
High jump 1.82 1.74 1.66 1.57 Metres
Shot put 17.07 15.58 14.09 12.58 Metres
200 m 23.80 24.86 25.97 27.14 Seconds
Long jump 6.48 6.17 5.84 5.50 Metres
Javelin throw 57.18 52.04 46.87 41.68 Metres
800 m 2:07.63 2:14.52 2:21.77 2:29.47 Minutes

Women's world records compared with heptathlon bests

Nataliya Dobrynska in the Osaka World Athletics Championships 2007 women's heptathlon
World records (WR) compared with heptathlon bests (HB)
Event Type Athlete Record Score Percentage /Points difference Notes/Ref
100 m hurdles
WR Kendra Harrison 12.20 s 1248 97.29%
HB Jessica Ennis 12.54 s 1195 −53 [4]
High jump
WR Stefka Kostadinova 2.09 m 1359 94.74%
HB Nafissatou Thiam 2.02 m 1264 −95
Shot put
WR Natalya Lisovskaya 22.63 m 1378 76.49%
HB Austra Skujytė 17.31 m 1016 −362 [5]
200 m
WR Florence Griffith Joyner 21.34 s 1251 95.70%
HB Jackie Joyner Kersee 22.30 s 1150 −101
Long jump
WR Galina Chistyakova 7.52 m 1351 96.68%
HB Jackie Joyner Kersee 7.27 m 1264 −87
Javelin[note 1]
WR Barbora Špotáková 72.28 m 1295 84.26% current 1999 model
HB Barbora Špotáková 60.90 m 1072 −223 current 1999 model[6]
WR Petra Felke 80.00 m 1448 80.80% old model
HB Tessa Sanderson 64.64 m 1145 −303 old model
800 m
WR Jarmila Kratochvílová 1:53.28 min:s 1224 92.97%
HB Nadine Debois 2:01.84 min:s 1087 −137
Total World record 9106
Heptathlon bests 8048 −1058
Other Languages
беларуская: Сямібор’е
català: Heptatló
čeština: Sedmiboj
Deutsch: Siebenkampf
Ελληνικά: Έπταθλο
español: Heptatlón
Esperanto: Heptatlono
euskara: Heptatloi
فارسی: هفت‌گانه
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한국어: 7종경기
hrvatski: Sedmoboj
italiano: Eptathlon
עברית: קרב שבע
Latina: Heptathlon
latviešu: Septiņcīņa
lietuvių: Septynkovė
magyar: Hétpróba
Bahasa Melayu: Heptatlon
日本語: 七種競技
norsk: Sjukamp
português: Heptatlo
русский: Семиборье
shqip: Heptatloni
Simple English: Heptathlon
српски / srpski: Седмобој
svenska: Sjukamp
Türkçe: Heptatlon
українська: Семиборство
Tiếng Việt: Bảy môn phối hợp
walon: Eptatlon
中文: 七項全能