TRACK AND FIELD WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUNDUP : O’Brien Wins Decathlon, Falls Short of Record


Forty-five minutes after Mike Powell’s historic performance in the long jump at track and field’s World Championships on Friday, another U.S. athlete had an opportunity to break a world record.

But Dan O’Brien of Moscow, Ida., needing to run the final event of the decathlon, the 1,500 meters, in 4 minutes 32 seconds to break the world record of 8,847 points set by Great Britain’s Daley Thompson in the 1984 Olympic Games, lumbered to the finish line in 4:37.50.

Still, he finished with 8,812 points, 263 ahead of second-place finisher Michael Smith of Canada and 178 better than the American record set in 1976 by Bruce Jenner.


“If I’d had a good high jump and a little better discus, I would have scored 9,000 points,” said O’Brien, 25, who, despite difficulties in those two disciplines, set personal decathlon records in six of the 10 events. “With another year of training, I will be going for the world record again.”

After finishing 1-2-3 in the 100 meters Monday, Germany’s Katrin Krabbe, the United States’ Gwen Torrence and Jamaica’s Merlene Ottey finished in that order again. It was a disappointing week for Ottey, the female athlete of the year in 1990 who was favored to win both the 100 and the 200 here.

“I shook hands with Merlene before the race, and I got the feeling she was already congratulating me,” said Krabbe, who won on a rain-slicked track in 22.09 seconds.

Earlier, Gail Devers-Roberts, formerly of UCLA, won a silver medal in the women’s 100-meter hurdles with a time of 12.63. She finished between two Soviet hurdlers, gold medalist Lyudmila Narozhilenko (12.59) and Natalia Grigoryeva (12.69).

Six days into the eight-day competition, Great Britain finally won its first gold medal when Liz McColgan finished the women’s 10,000 meters in 31:14.31. Two-time world cross-country champion Lynn Jennings of New Market, N.H., was fifth in 31:54.44, and defending champion Ingrid Kristiansen of Norway was seventh in 32:10.75.

It has been a disastrous meet for the British. Among its gold medal hopefuls, Steve Backley failed to qualify for the final in the javelin; Colin Jackson withdrew after the first round of the 110-meter hurdles because of an injury and quarter-miler Roger Black and women’s intermediate hurdler Sally Gunnell finished second in their events. Steve Cram, once one of the world’s premier milers, did not qualify for the final in the 1,500 meters. Also, sprinter Linford Christie finished fourth in both the 100 and 200 meters.

The International Amateur Athletic Federation announced that Soviet sprinter Irina Slyusar, eliminated in the semifinals of the 100 meters, tested positive for strychnine and was suspended for three months pending a hearing.

She is the second athlete here to fail the test for performance-enhancing substances. U.S. half-miler Delisa Walton Floyd of Houston faces a four-year suspension after testing positive for amphetamines.