With Bruce Jenner and Great Britain's Daley Thompson watching from the stands at Downing Stadium, Dan O'Brien of Moscow, Idaho, came within four points and about sixth-tenths of a second Thursday of scoring more points than any decathlete in history.
Needing to run the 1,500 meters--the last of 10 events in the decathlon at the USA/Mobil Outdoor Championships--in 4:44.94 to surpass Thompson's world record of 8,847 points, O'Brien crossed the finish line in 4:45.54 to finish at 8,844.
But it wouldn't have counted as a world record, anyway.
Because of a snafu by the organizers, there was no wind gauge for the first two events Wednesday. On Thursday, when there was a gauge, the wind for the 110-meter high hurdles was over the allowable for record consideration.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee was ahead of her world-record pace through three events of the seven-event heptathlon Wednesday, but she ran cautiously in the 200 meters because of the rain-slicked track and never regained momentum.
Still, she finished with enough points (6,878) after Thursday's final three events to win by almost 700 points over her nearest pursuer, Cindy Greiner. That would be a superb effort for anyone other than Joyner-Kersee, the world record-holder who five times has scored more than 7,000 points.
Lynn Jennings, two-time world cross-country champion, proved her prowess on the track, kicking her way from third place on the final lap to win a tactical 10,000-meter duel with Francie Larrieu-Smith, the American record-holder.
With Randy Barnes and Jim Doehring, the world's first- and third-ranked shotputters last year, sidelined because of drug suspensions, Ron Backes won the competition here with a put of 64-11 1/2. Only once since 1966 has the national champion won with a shorter result.
The nation's No. 1 800-meter runner in 1990, Julie Jenkins of Urbana, Ill., was introduced to New York's mean streets Thursday morning, when she was hit by a van while crossing 7th Avenue at 52nd Street.
She was unable to compete in the first round, but after receiving medical clearance, she received a waiver into today's semifinals.
Marion Jones, the 15-year-old sophomore from Rio Mesa High in Oxnard, became the youngest athlete to qualify for the finals at the national championships since 14-year-old Mary Decker in 1973.
Jones will compete in today's 100-meter finals after surviving two qualifying rounds Thursday. She ran 11.40 to finish second in her heat in the first round, then ran 11.49 to finish fourth in the semifinals.