Originally created 07/21/98

O'Brien wins Goodwill decathlon



UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- After two years away from competition, Dan O'Brien proved he still was the world's greatest athlete. After two races in the Goodwill Games, Marion Jones proved again she was the world's best women's sprinter.

O'Brien, who had not competed in a decathlon since winning the 1996 Olympics, showed no rustiness from an injury enforced layoff, winning the two-day, 10-event grind in steamy conditions with a meet-record 8,755 points, the best in the world this year, Monday night.

"It was sweet to finish," the exhausted O'Brien said. "I didn't know what my fitness level was. I wasn't competition sharp."

O'Brien had the best total ever through nine events and said only a stiff wind and a lack of competition cost him a 9,000-point total.

"But I still proved myself against the best," he said.

O'Brien, unbeaten since no-heighting in the pole vault at the 1992 Olympic Trials, now has won 11 consecutive decathlons.

Jones extended her unbeaten record this year to 24 -- including the 100, 200 and 400 meters, the 400 relay, the indoor 60 and the long jump -- by streaking to victory in the 200 in a meet-record 21.80 seconds. Jones won the 100 in a Goodwill-record 10.90 Sunday night.

Jones said she was motivated by recent trash-talking among the other sprinters.

"I just ignore it," she said. "It's a bit vexing. They tried to psyche me out but it didn't work."

After Sunday's first five events, in which he trailed teammate Chris Huffins by 45 points, O'Brien vowed to come out Monday and "blast" the hurdles.

He did just that, running his best decathlon time, 13.67 seconds, in the 110-meter hurdles. That gave him a 16-point lead over Huffins.

"I just wanted to get a good start today, and I did," O'Brien said. "I wanted to come out aggressive and motivated. I think that was the thing that was lacking yesterday."

Huffins regained the lead by 2 points after the next event, the discus. But in the pole vault, O'Brien soared 17 feet, 3/4 inch, while Huffins cleared only 15-5. O'Brien had a 151-point lead, and had virtually clinched his second straight Goodwill title.

He padded his lead in the final two events, throwing the javelin 217-7, giving him 8,245 points, and the 1,500 meters, and finished 189 points ahead of Huffins' 8,576.

O'Brien's performance was remarkable, considering his long absence caused by a series of injuries, including a stress fracture of the right leg last year.

Jones' showing was another in her series of flawless efforts this year. Not only has she been winning, but winning by large margins.

The 22-year-old blazed around the curve in the lead and widened her advantage early in the stretch before easing near the finish of the 200. Still, she beat world champion Zhanna Pintusevich of Ukraine by six yards.

"I'm running fast, but I'm just learning the sport," said Jones, who has been competing full time on the track circuit for just over a year.

The men's 110 hurdles was much more competitive, as Mark Crear, the 1996 Olympic silver medalist, shook off a false start and won in a Goodwill Games' record 13.06, beating a field that included Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion Allen Johnson (second, 13.10) and Britain's Colin Jackson, the world record-holder (fourth, 13.17).

NCAA champion Angie Vaughn of Texas rallied over the final two hurdles to win the women's 100 hurdles in 12.72.

Another Goodwill Games' record was broken as world record-holder Bernard Barmasai of Kenya won the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 8:14.26. Teammate Moses Kiptanui, the former world record-holder, ruptured his left Achilles on the water jump and was helped off the track.

Ivan Pedroso of Cuba won the long jump at 28- 1/4 and Russia's Svetlana Masterkova won the women's mile in 4:20.39, both the second-best marks in the world this year.

An American man scored a surprise in gymnastics. Blaine Wilson of Columbus, Ohio, finished third in the all-around, behind Ivan Ivankov of Belarus and Alexei Bondarenko of Russia.

Bill May of Cicero, N.Y., won a rare pair of medals for a man in a sport where the rules usually say women only.

May and Kristina Lum teamed to take the silver medal in duet, behind Russia's world champions Maria Kisseleva and Olga Brousnikina.

May and Lum later added silver medals in the team event as the United States finished runnerup to Russia.

May is the first man on any national synchro team and the first to compete in the sport's top event of the year.

"We were very focused on what we had to do and were determined to show that not only do men belong in the sport but they can belong on the medal stand as well," Lum said.

Basketball had a pair of overtime gamnes. Lithuania squandered a 19-point lead before beating Argentina 81-77, and Brazil beat Puerto RIco 96-92. Russia led all the way in beating Australia 81-73, despite a game-high 29 points by the losers' Andrew Gaze.