2 new faces join Johnson in Barcelona Long, Muzzio make decathlon team


NEW ORLEANS -- Dave and Aric and Rob?

It doesn't exactly have the same ring as Dan and Dave, but it will have to do for the U.S. Olympic decathlon team.

Yesterday, while Olympic gold-medal favorite Dan O'Brien flopped in the pole vault and sank to 11th, new stories and careers were fashioned.

Dave Johnson established a second-day world record of 4,455 points to win with 8,649. Aric Long, a 22-year-old who attends the University of Tennessee, was second with 8,237 points. And Rob Muzzio, a George Mason University graduate with a history of injuries, took the third spot at 8,163.

"It was a hot one out there," Johnson said. "Basically I just battled the conditions and battled myself."

Of course, he also battled his advertising partner, O'Brien. When O'Brien tumbled from first after failing to clear a height in the pole vault, Johnson was emotionally drained. Still, he had to go on.

"It happens to everyone at one time or another," Johnson said. "But you have to put it all out of your mind. And then, you have to go on."

Johnson was fifth after the first day. But he is known as the sport's best second-day performer, setting an American record with a throw of 244 feet 8 in the javelin, while gobbling up points in the 110 hurdles, discus, pole vault, and 1,500.

"It was my day," he said.

The day also belonged to Long, who was nearly speechless after emerging second.

"I couldn't be more excited," he said. "I think this is the greatest day of my life."

Muzzio also was overcome with emotion. An asthma attack knocked him out of the 1984 Olympic trials. A knee injury prevented him from attempting to qualify in 1988.

"The decathlon is 10 events, as you all saw," Muzzio said. "You've got to stick in there and finish all 10. Sometimes, things don't work out the way they should. You have to hang in there. Anyone who can finish a decathlon is a tough person."

And yesterday, Muzzio finished with a 4:36.54 in the 1,500, fast enough to keep him in third, and send him to Barcelona, Spain.

"I can't tell you how happy I am," he said.

Dan O'Brien may have lost. But three men won.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad