Tomas Dvorak of the Czech Republic broke Dan O'Brien's world decathlon record and could have broken the "magical barrier" of 9,000 points if not for a mistake in the final 1,500-meter event.
In smashing O'Brien's mark by 103 points Sunday with 8,994 points in a European Cup event, Dvorak had a legitimate shot at becoming the first decathlete to accumlate 9,000 points.
He needed to run the 1,500 in 4 minutes, 36.34 seconds, more than six seconds slower than his best of 4:29.69. To tie O'Brien's record, Dvorak needed to run a comfortable 4:53.87.
He finished in 4:37.20, after making a mistake in the second lap.
"We slowed down a bit and we got punished," Dvorak said. "I had enough power in the last lap, but it was too late."
"If I had performed beyond 9,000 points, I would have had a message for O'Brien, but now it's better to shut up," Dvorak added, sipping champagne.
O'Brien set the previous record of 8,891 in 1992 at Talence, France, after failing to qualify for the U.S. team for the Barcelona Olympics.
Dvorak, 27, the 1997 world champion and 1996 Olympic bronze medalist, had a previous best of 8,837 points in winning the 1997 World Championships at Athens, Greece.
"Only a couple of points and I would have had 9,000, but at least I'll have some motivation for next time," Dvorak said, after competing in 90-degree weather at Strahov stadium. "The conditions were exceptionally good."
"I will take a week off now and then prepare for the World Championships."
Dvorak was 75 points behind O'Brien's record pace after the first five events Saturday. The Czech star set three personal bests Saturday, with a time of 10.54 seconds in the 100 meters; 25 feet, 11 inches, in the long jump, and 55-0 in the shot put.
On Sunday, Dvorak won the 110-meter hurdles in 13.73 and had personal bests in the discus with a throw of 158-6 and in the javelin at 237-3.
Dvorak set four personal bests en route to the Olympic bronze and six bests when he won the world title. He also won the 1995 European Cup and the Czech 110 hurdles titles in 1994-96 and 1998.
The record performance makes Dvorak the favorite for the World Championships at Seville, Spain, in August. O'Brien was injured for the U.S. Championships, and did not qualify for the team. He has asked the world governing body to compete as a wild-card entry.
After clearing 16-0¾ in the pole vault, Dvorak still was 76 points behind O'Brien. He had broken a pole attempting 15-1 and scratched a hand, so decided to pass at 16-2¾.
"I saved my energy for the javelin," he said.
Dvorak then had his big throw in the javelin and moved 72 points ahead of O'Brien's record pace going into the 1,500.
Dvorak had long been in the shadow of another Czech decathlete, Robert Zmelik, the 1992 Olympic gold medalist, before winning the world title.
The Czech Republic won the men's European Cup combined event with 25,375 points, ahead of Germany and Spain. Russia won the women's title with 18,625 points, ahead of France and Poland.
©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
© 1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.