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Dan O'Brien re-staked his claim to being the world's greatest athlete by breaking the world decathlon record Saturday.

The 1991 world champion accumulated 8,891 points, erasing the mark of 8,847 set by Britain's Daley Thompson at the 1984 Olympics at Los Angeles. O'Brien became the first American to hold the record since Bruce Jenner in 1976."Before I used to say the world's greatest athlete was Daley Thompson," O'Brien said. "Now I have to say myself at this point. Finally.

"If you are asking who is the world's greatest athlete, you are looking at the world's greatest decathlete. That's what I wanted to prove at this meet.

"The world's greatest athlete has come back to America."

After winning the world title last year and becoming the favorite for the Olympic gold medal, he did not make the U.S. team after no-heighting at the U.S. Olympic trials at New Orleans in June. He also failed to finish a decathlon at Stockholm in July.

Does the record take the place of winning a gold medal at Barcelona?

"No, but it's very satisfying," O'Brien said. "This makes the year well worth it. Last year, Tokyo (site of the world championships) made the year well worth it."

O'Brien set four personal bests in the 10-event, two-day meet and easily beat Robert Zmelik of Czechoslovakia, the Olympic gold medalist.

The weary Zmelik finished second with 8,344 points, far off his Olympic total of 8,611.

Third was Alain Blondel of France with 8,285. Americans Brian Brophy, 8,165, Steve Fritz, 8,045, and Rob Muzzio, 7,957, followed.