Olympic buffs who are also semi-serious or very serious exercisers will get the most out of this slim paperback volume by O'Brien. He won the 1996 Olympic gold in the decathlon, the first American winner in this sport in 20 years, and is the world-record holder.
After a foreword explaining the history of the grueling decathlon, the book highlights how O'Brien, adopted and brought up in Klamath Falls, Ore., overcame attention deficit disorder and a tendency to party hearty in college (until the loss of his scholarship brought him to his senses) to become a world-class athlete.
The opening chapter on the components of total fitness (such as agility and flexibility) are nothing new to regular exercisers, but the demonstration photos are a handy checkup on proper form.
The chapter on the decathlon is obviously of most interest to those who hope to follow in O'Brien's footsteps. But the last chapter, "The Moment of Truth," which describes the sometimes split second when an athlete decides to give up or push through, and talks about goals, can help anyone who moves.