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The Daley Decade


Known as a superstar athlete across the world, Daley Thompson struck the Commonwealth Games in 1978 like a bolt of lightning from Mount Olympus. Going on to become one of the most decorated Olympic athletes of all time, his formative years and  first Commonwealth Games would go on to define his legendary career.

His power, pace and athleticism would storm the sporting world as Daley shattered the UK and Commonwealth records no less than 10 times. An engaging and abstract personality enthralled and compelled spectators as did his intelligence and wit; adding to the spectacular sporting attributes he already possessed.

Daley grew up in London, having aspirations to become a footballer, but with local athletics clubs trained as a sprinter before qualifying for the British Olympic Team at just 17 years of age. He then went on to win the European Junior Championships in 1977.

Commonwealth Crowns

Daley would collect three Commonwealth Gold Decathlon medals in 1978, 1982 and 1986. In a nine year period, Daley would go on to win all major titles available to him and become the only athlete to ever to hold the Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth titles, and the world record in decathlon.

Daley began his Commonwealth journey in North America at the 1978 Games in Edmonton as a relative newcomer. His impact was immediate as he recorded his first success in the Decathlon. This would be the beginning of his monopoly over the event, recording his first Olympic success at Moscow 1980.

After each tournament, Daley managed to improve on his established bests, coming back stronger and more determined to push the boundaries with near super-human effort.

Then came Queensland and the Brisbane Games in 1982, at a time when his star was rising Daley dominated the other competitors, setting records as well as breaking them. In the same year Daley won the European Championships in Athens and claimed the second of his Commonwealth titles in Oceania, before setting his sights on the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.

After his successful defence of his Olympic crown Daley would record his third Commonwealth title on British soil at Edinburgh 1986, but after that he never quite recaptured the superlative form of earlier years.

Daley could have captured more Commonwealth Games glory, but sadly injury forced the athlete to remove himself in 1990 at the Auckland edition of the Games. Having been plagued by injury for some time, Daley decided to end his momentous career that spanned more than a decade and inspired so many young athletes to replicate his endeavours.

Daley Operations 

He had the extra gears necessary to dominate over a plethora of athletic endeavours. Competing in the decathlon requires the ability to perform across ten events – the shot put, discus and javelin throws; the pole vault; the 100m, 400m; the 1500m & 110m hurdles as well as the long and high jumps.

He acted like a muscle car capable of tearing away from his competitors with immense speed, and coupled this in more physical events with his trademark power and force.

The decathlon was never the same sport after the enigmatic and bold Daley made his mark. He tore down the multiple well-established bars and placed them ultimately higher.

Daley was awarded an MBE in 1982 and CBE in 2000, and was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1982. Acting as an ambassador, TV personality, coach and commentator, Daley continues to be a presence throughout sport today.

Image credit: Getty

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