Ian Christopher Kenny, Dan Sprevak, Craig Sharp, Colin Boreham
October 13, 2005
In a recent communication, Van Damme et al (1) presented a statistical analysis of the performance of world-ranked decathletes, and made inferences about the ability of these athletes to respond uniformly to the demands of the ten events in the decathlon. Their argument was based on an interpretation of the negative correlation in a sample of 600 world-ranked decathletes between the best performance in an event and the overall performance. They used the principle of allocation (2) to argue that excellence in one task may only be attained at the expense of average performance in all other tasks. We present here a complementary view. We considered the 92 decathletes who competed in the last five Olympic games. For this elite sub-sample we found an opposite result to that of Van Damme et al (1): to compete successfully at this level, a uniform, relatively high performance in all individual disciplines is required.