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More Decathletes Wanted

Bernard Linley Track & Field Retrospect by Bernard Linley :: 21.12.2015

The death in 2015 of American hurdler Joel Shankle brought back memories of seeing him win the first ever decathlon held in Trinidad-Tobago.

At the 1956 AAA Championships decathlon Shankle was first (5982 pts) followed by the LASC high jumper Learie Scipio (4984pts) and QRC student Leroy Williams (4447 pts). Shankle, who also won the pole vault, long jump and discus and came second in the high jump and shot at this meeting, went to the Melbourne Olympic Games later that same year and captured the 110m hurdles bronze medal.

The decathlon has had a chequered career since its introduction to the local track and field scene. At some championships it was not programmed at all, and on some occasions when it was scheduled there were no starters…

Scipio`s record lasted for twenty years until Charles Williamson scored 5293 pts, which was in turn broken in 1979 when Eric Britto recorded 5426 pts. Both records, set during the national championships at the Arima municipal stadium on the country`s first all-weather track, were the last ones established on local soil.

Successive records were set in Houston, Texas (6776 pts by Wesley Francis in May 1988), in Fairfax, Virginia (7024 pts by Eddison Toby in May 1996) and in Winnipeg, Canada (7212 pts by Patrick Russell in July 2005).

To date only two other decathletes have exceeded 6000 pts: Alan Mitchell 6718 pts in 2005, and Micky Ruben 6121 pts in 2003.

The next in line to reach that score would appear to be Victor Isaac who in June 2015 scored 5821 pts, a major improvement on his 2014 best of 5621 pts which was achieved with junior hurdles (99cm) and junior throwing implements (6kg shot and 1.75kg discus).

We would like to believe that there are other TT decathletes capable of joining the 6000 pts club, and that commencing in 2016 there will more participants in this very challenging and fascinating track and field event.


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