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O’Brien runs away with decathlon gold; Jones owns sprints

SHARE O’Brien runs away with decathlon gold; Jones owns sprints

Don't mess with Dan O'Brien's all-around skills. And don't mess with Marion Jones' psyche.

O'Brien, competing in the decathlon for the first time since winning the gold medal in the 1996 Olympics, showed he's still the world's greatest athlete, winning the two-day, 10-event competition Monday night in the Goodwill Games.Jones, motivated by trash-talking by fellow sprinters, ran away with the women's 200 meters in 21.80 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year and a Games' record. Sunday night, she won the 100 in 10.90, also a meet record.

O'Brien finished with 8,755 points, a meet record and the best score in the world this year. He was on world-record pace going into the final event, the 1,500. He needed to run 4:45.92 to break his mark of 8,891 points, but after competing in hot, humid and windy conditions, he ran 5:08.77.

"I haven't done quite enough work in that event," O'Brien said. "I had the wind in the 1,500, I didn't have the legs. If I can improve on the 1,500, I can break the world record.

"I would like to go out in style in the 2000 Olympics with the record."

Still, coming off the long injury-enforced layoff, the 32-year-old O'Brien was sensational. If not for running into the wind in the 100 and tiring in the 400 Sunday, and running his usual methodical race in the 1,500 - an event he despises - his score would have been considerably higher.

"I was impressed with the way Dan has come back after two years," said Dwight Stones, the former American record-holder in the high jump who is now a television commentator. "If he can come back from this layoff, he still has a world record in his future.

"Dan O'Brien is far from dead."

O'Brien trailed Chris Huffins, the U.S. champion, by 45 points after Sunday's first five events.

He then opened Monday with a decathlon career-best 13.67 in the 110 hurdles to take a 16-point lead. After Huffins regained the lead by 2 points in the next event, the discus, O'Brien took a commanding 151-point advantage by soaring 17 feet, 3/4 inches in the pole vault. Huffins cleared 15-5.

O'Brien wound up winning by 179 points.

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

Jones, meanwhile, has been extremely sharp.

The 200 was her 24th final this year in six events - the 100, 200, 400, 400 relay, the long jump and the indoor 60 - and her 24th victory.

She was in such command coming down the stretch that she was able to ease up. Still, she won by six meters.

"I was tired," Jones said. "I didn't consciously shut down."

Jones blasted to such a powerful start because she was irritated by the trash talking among some of the other sprinters, whom she did not name.

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

O'Brien and Jones led a U.S. domination of Monday night's program.

Mark Crear led a 1-2-3 American sweep in the men's 110 hurdles in 13.06, a meet record. Allen Johnson, the Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion, hit all 10 hurdles but still finished second in 13.10, his best of the season. Reggie Torian was third at 13.16, 0.01 second ahead of world record-holder Colin Jackson of Britain.

Angie Vaughn, the NCAA champion from Texas, rallied over the final two hurdles to win the women's 100 hurdles in 12.72. And Tisha Waller, the U.S. indoor and outdoor women's high jump champion, won at 6-51/2.

Kenya's Bernard Barmasai, the world record-holder in the men's 3,000 steeplechase, won in a meet-record 8:14.26, after his teammate and former world record-holder Moses Kiptanui ruptured his right Achilles' tendon while going over the water jump.

Cuba's Ivan Pedroso, the two-time world outdoor champion and three-time world indoor champion in the men's long jump, won at 28-0 1-4, second-best mark in the world this year, and Russia's Svetlana Masterkova, the 800 and 1,500 Olympic champion, out-kicked Regina Jacobs to win the women's mile in 4:20.39, also No. 2 in the world.

In synchronized swimming, 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.