Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



1960 Olympic Decathlon: A Duel For The Ages 11

Posted on December 05, 2009 by Rojo Grande

The decathlon duel between Rafer Johnson and C.K. Yang was the highlight of a star studded 1960 Olympics.

The decathlon duel between Rafer Johnson and C.K. Yang was the highlight of a star studded 1960 Olympics.

The decathlon is one of the most grueling competitions in all of sport. It consists of ten events, negotiated over two days. Points are awarded based on the order of finish as well as the distance, height or time achieved in each event. Final standings in a decathlon competition are therefore expressed as total accumulated points.

The particular events are designed to test the athlete’s speed, strength and endurance – in essence, an entire track meet in one competition. Because of the versatility and overall athleticism required to win, the Olympic decathlon champion is often referred to as  the “World’s Greatest Athlete”.

This is the story of one of the most dramatic battles for that coveted distinction. As you will read, this struggle for gold and glory carried with it some very interesting under currents.
The 1960 Rome Olympics was one of the most memorable in terms of drama, future legends and athletic achievement in all of modern Olympic history. Names like Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), Wilma Rudolph, Al Oerter and the Russian sisters Irina and Tamara Press were but a few of the jewels set in the crown of Rome that year.

Among the gathered elite, probably none drew more attention than the top two decathletes in the world at that time: Yang Chuan-Kwang of Formosa (Taiwan) and the American world record holder, Rafer Johnson.

The decathlon in those days had worldwide appeal, due primarily to its dominance during the 1950s by Bob Mathias, who shocked the world by winning the 1948 Olympic gold as a 17 year old kid.

Yang, better known as C.K.Yang, was a member of the Takasago – an aboriginal tribe who inhabited Formosa long before the Chinese arrived. His athletic skill was recognized at an early age. He developed his art to the extent local facilities and competition would permit. He was good enough to finish eighth in the decathlon at the 1956 Melbourne Games. Eventually, track and field officials raised enough money to send him to the U.S. to train.

Read the rest of this entry →

  • Follow Us Online

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Sid Luckman: Chicago Bears Legend
      September 28, 2019 | 7:09 pm
      Sid Luckman

      After years of struggling to find a consistent quarterback, the Chicago Bears now hope third-year player Mitchell Trubisky will be their quarterback for years to come. As the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month we are recognizing the best quarterback in Chicago Bears history.

      Chosen out of Columbia–where he played tailback–with the second pick in the 1939 NFL Draft, Sid Luckman spent 12 seasons as the quarterback for the Bears and led them to five NFL Championship Game appearances and four titles.

      Read more »

    • RSSArchive for Vintage Athlete of the Month »
  • Sign up for Email Updates

    Sign-up to get daily updates of all the great articles and information on Sports Then and Now.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • Check out the best free bets at freebets4all. Learn how to convert online bookmakers free bets into guaranteed cash using the matched betting technique.

  • Affordable Satellite TV Great prices on Dish network packages.

  • Gear up for your next trip with new North Face Backpacks from SportsUnlimited.com. Shop great Field Hockey Sticks from Grays & Gryphon.

    Football Jerseys

    8mm film to digital
  • Current Poll

    Will Antonio Brown Play in Another NFL Game This Season?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
  • Post Categories



↑ Top