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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Four Years Later, O'Brien Has Gold

ATLANTA -- American triple world decathlon champion Dan O'Brien, who missed Barcelona after a calamitous U.S. trials, finally clinched his first Olympic title at the Atlanta Games.


O'Brien led after the first five events Wednesday and finished the 10-event discipline with 8,824 points, 118 ahead of second-placed German Frank Busemann.


Busemann, competing in only his fifth competition, produced a remarkable four personal bests to notch up 8,706 points. Czech Tomas Dvorak took the bronze with 8,664 points.


O'Brien won world titles in 1991, 1993 and 1995 but missed out on the 1992 Barcelona Games after failing to register a pole vault at the U.S. trials.


He struggled to put his feelings into words after the final event, the 1,500 meters.


"I can't describe how I feel. When I was on the second lap all I could hear was the crowd shouting U.S.A.," O'Brien said. "I dreamed about that when I was jogging back home. I will never forget it."


He added: "I expected to be here with the gold medal. I thought about it every single day in the last four years. One reason I think I won was because I thought about it every day."


After holding a 124-point lead over Busemann overnight, the world champion began the second day with solid performances -- 13.87 seconds in the 110-meter hurdles and 48.78 meters in the discus.


O'Brien then vaulted 5.00 meters in the pole vault to take a 142-point lead into the final two events, the javelin and the 1,500 meters.


With the crowd roaring his every move, O'Brien then threw a personal best of 66.90 meters in the javelin to stamp his authority on the competition at a crucial stage.


"Busemann came out of nowhere. He had me very worried. I thought he was thinking of gold all the way."


Busemann, 21, is only competing in his second season in decathlon and his silver medal was remarkable. The German could hardly believe it.


"This is like a film. All the time I was thinking 'I'm going mad,'" he said.


"I am just happy to be here. It is going to take weeks for this to sink in."