A TRACK AND FIELD ATHLETE CAN choose one of two paths when training for the Olympic Games. The first way requires the athlete to focus on one event. After vigorous training that could easily last four years or take a lifetime, the person may make the Games and earn the opportunity to win the gold. Some may perceive this as a fairly simply method, employed by those limited to jumping high, throwing long or running fast. The second path leads to the decathlon — a combination of 10 events that covers each track and field discipline. This path is the scenic route and comes highly recommended.

At the 1984 Olympics, Carl Lewis competed in four different events and won four gold medals for his efforts. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) later nominated Lewis as the World Athlete of the Century, due in large part to the extensive medal....

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