Why Daley Thompson Is an Olympic GOAT

In the ’80s, nobody could touch the decathlete

Reuben Salsa


Photo: Tony Duffy/Getty Images

You can keep your fan faves like Carl Lewis and Michael Phelps. To me, there’s only one man who embodies the Olympic spirit.

In my mind, there’s no Olympian greater than decathlete Daley Thompson. The man had the most iconic mustache in the history of the games and made short shorts incredibly masculine. And he never ever gave up.

I was seven when I first laid eyes on Thompson during the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. America called for a boycott after Russia failed to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Iran, hostile to both superpowers, boycotted when the Islamic Conference condemned the invasion. Several countries cited economics and pulled out. In all, 65 countries chose not to participate. But for me, it didn’t matter. Great Britain was at the Olympic Games and so was Thompson.

He had a spectacular rivalry with West German athlete Jürgen Hingsen. The man was a mirror image of Thompson except he was White, less cool, and, let’s face it, very German. We were all delighted when Hingsen lost to Thompson with the slimmest of margins.

From the moment I saw Thompson run the 100-meter sprint, destroying the field, I knew I wanted to be like him. I asked my dad, an armchair sports enthusiast, why he was jumping as…