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Athletes campaigning to include women’s decathlon in Paris 2024 Olympics

American women's decathlon record-holder, Jordan Gray, started the Let Women Decathlon campaign to fight for gender equality in sport

Photo by: Jordan Gray Instagram

American women’s decathlon national record-holderJordan Gray, can’t compete in her signature event at the Olympics because it’s not on the program. After meeting several other athletes in her situation, Gray launched the “Let Women Decathlon” campaign in February 2021 to petition the IOC to include the women’s decathlon in the Paris 2024 event program.

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 A brief history of women’s multi-event competitions

The men’s decathlon was first added to the Olympic program in 1912, but the IOC did not permit women to participate in the event because they believed women’s bodies were not capable of handling the three-day competition. The women’s pentathlon (five events) was finally added to the 1964 Tokyo Olympic program and was replaced 20 years later at the 1984 Los Angeles Games by the women’s heptathlon, which includes seven events.

Since then, the men have competed in 10 events throughout the three-day competition at the Olympics, while women have only competed in seven. The women still do not compete in the 400m, pole vault or discus.

Let Women Decathlon

Despite it not being an Olympic event, the women’s decathlon does exist. Gray set the American record in the event in 2019 at a USATF-affiliated competition, with 7,921 points. According to the Olympic news website, Around the Rings, Gray said it was after that record-setting performance that she began meeting other women in the sport who have been fighting for decades to have the women’s decathlon added to the Olympic program.

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“Having that kind of platform, and meeting all these women, I was like, wow, this is something that is truly wanted in the world in the track and field community. I started pushing more to be a voice,” she said.

This prompted the Georgia native to launch the “Let Women Decathlon” campaign on Feb. 3, to coincide with the 35th National Girls & Women In Sports Day. To date, more than 19,000 people have signed their petition, closing in on their goal of 25,000 signatures.

The IOC has already confirmed the program for the Paris 2024 Olympics, but Gray is hoping they will be willing to make a revision after seeing how many people support their initiative. “I hope that they [The IOC] will be willing to do a revision after seeing all of the work we put into it after it gets picked up by hopefully a few different corporations. Even if it doesn’t get picked up for 2024, at least it will make enough noise, enough people will know about it and sign the petition to be included for the 2028 Games,” she said.

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Gray is determined in her fight to end what she is calling gender discrimination in Olympic sport. Advertising agency Luckie has joined her campaign to help spread the word, and her cause has been gaining momentum. To learn more about the “Let Women Decathlon’ campaign, head over to the website, letwomendecathlon.org.