Dan & Dave are back.
Dan O’Brien and Dave Johnson, who were the focus of a Reebok campaign before the 1992 Olympics (which O’Brien failed to qualify for), will compete against each other for the first time in more than a decade on Sunday.
They’re two special entrants out of 150 in the RBC Decathlon, an annual New York event that crowns Wall Street’s best athletes that raises money to support pediatric cancer treatment and research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
It’s not an Olympic-style decathlon. Here are the events:
500m stationary row
20-yard shuttle (5-10-5 drill)
175-pound bench press
O’Brien, who recovered from no-heighting in the 1992 Olympic Trials pole vault to win the 1996 Olympic decathlon, finished 46th at last year’s event. Former St. Louis Rams safety Mark Rubin, who now works at Barclays, won for the second straight year.
Organizers and O’Brien brainstormed asking other Olympic champions to join for 2014, including Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Carl Lewis.
“But it just made sense to bring Dave Johnson on board and kind of reignite the rivalry,” O’Brien said.
Johnson and O’Brien believe they haven’t competed against each other since the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials, where Johnson finished sixth and O’Brien won. They still see each other at least once a year.
Both have coached recently — O’Brien at Arizona State, Johnson at Oregon State — and agree that O’Brien, who also does work for NBC, is the favorite in Sunday’s reunion. Johnson, 51, says O’Brien, 47, is in better shape now.
“[O’Brien] knows that back in the day there’s no way he’d beat me at something like this,” said Johnson, the 1992 Olympic bronze medalist who is now a director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “This was the kind of stuff I was really good at. He was more of a sprinter and speed guy. There’s a lot of weight-type events.”
Neither is particularly looking forward to the final event, the 800m. The 1500m finale in the Olympic decathlon is always grueling for the world’s best athletes.
“What you’re going to see here is two guys pushing 60 years old competing against guys half our age,” O’Brien said. “I think you’ll see us both jogging in the half mile.”