Daley Thompson won his first Olympic gold at the 1980 Moscow Games. Four years later, he returned to defend his title in Los Angeles. In his way stood his great rival, Jürgen Hingsen of West Germany.
For the first seven events, little separated Thompson and Hingsen as they battled for first place. But Thompson pulled away with strong performances in the pole vault and the javelin. With the gold medal secure, Thompson needed to run the final event, the 1500m, in 4:34.98 to break Hingsen's world record. Yet Thompson eased up at the finish line and stopped the clock at 4:35.00!
Two years later, IAAF officials reviewed the photo timer results and discovered that Thompson had completed the 110m hurdles one hundredth of a second quicker than initially recorded. They added one more point to his Olympic total and he was given a belated share of the world record. This record would stand for nine years, and it was only at the 2004 Athens Games that it was bettered by Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic.
Thompson was a natural showman. But behind the cheeky grin was a will of iron. He and Hingsen may have traded world records but in the events that mattered, it was always Thompson who emerged victorious. Between 1979 and 1987, he went undefeated in all competitions.