Dan O’Brien

Dan O'Brien, Dave Johnson

Dan O’Brien wins Dan vs. Dave rematch at RBC Decathlon

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Dan O’Brien finished 42nd overall (and second in his age group) in the RBC Decathlon on Sunday. His old rival, Dave Johnson, did not finish.

O’Brien and Johnson reunited to compete against each other (and more than 80 Wall Street professionals) in a unique decathlon in New York. They believed they had not gone head to head since the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials.

The 1996 Olympic decathlon champion O’Brien improved from 46th last year, accumulating 4,850 points with the following results in the 10 events:

400m run — 1:04.21
Football throw — 61 yards
Pull-ups — 19 reps
40-yard dash — 4.65
Dips — 29 reps
500m stationary row — 1:32.60
Vertical jump — 29 inches
20-yard shuttle (5-10-5 drill) — 4.6
175-pound bench press — 15 reps
800m run — 2:55.44

O’Brien’s best finish against the field was a tie for fourth in the 40-yard dash. The fastest posted 40 time was a 4.28 from Greg Stripe, a former Lafayette wide receiver. That’s .04 of a second slower than the NFL Combine record.

The 1992 Olympic decathlon bronze medalist Johnson aggravated a hamstring injury on the football throw. He launched it 74 yards, though, tops among all competitors.

Dan & Dave was a popular ad campaign leading into the 1992 Olympics, but O’Brien no-heighted in the pole vault at the Olympic Trials and missed the Olympic Team.

Former St. Louis Rams safety Mark Rubin won the overall RBC Decathlon for the third straight year.

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Dan O’Brien, Dave Johnson reunite for RBC Decathlon

Dan O'Brien, Dave Johnson
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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:

400m run
Football throw
Pull-ups
40-yard dash
Dips
500m stationary row
Vertical jump
20-yard shuttle (5-10-5 drill)
175-pound bench press
800m run

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.”

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Memorable moments from Centennial Olympic Stadium (Turner Field)

Turner Field
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All that will be left are memories once Turner Field is demolished.

Of course, Turner Field was originally known as Centennial Olympic Stadium. It was built for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the Centennial Games 100 years after the first modern Olympics were staged.

Here are 10 highlights from 17 years ago, in no particular order:

1. Muhammad Ali lights Olympic cauldron

The night of July 19 provided the lasting image of the Games. Ali, 54 and slowed by Parkinson’s, was the final leg of the torch relay, receiving a handoff from swimmer Janet Evans and lighting the Olympic cauldron.

Later in the Games, Ali would receive a replacement for the 1960 Olympic gold medal he lost.

2. Michael Johnson breaks world record in 200m

The man with the golden shoes doubled up in the 200m and 400m. He broke the Olympic record to win the 400m in 43.49 seconds, but his 200m gold three days later was more impressive.

Johnson, in his trademark upright running style, took a whopping .34 of a second off his previous record set less than two months before the Games. He ran fast enough to be ticketed for speeding in a school zone.

3. Gail Devers dedicates 100m win to bombing victims

Devers, known for her long fingernails, edged Merlene Ottey and Georgia native Gwen Torrance in a photo finish to defend her Olympic title. Devers and Ottey both ran 10.94, while Torrance took bronze in 10.96.

Devers said after that the victims of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing from earlier that day were in her thoughts.

4. Donovan Bailey breaks world record in 100m

The Canadian followed up his world championship with an Olympic title, winning in 9.84 seconds to break Leroy Burrell‘s world record of 9.85 from 1994.

Bailey’s look of astonishment as he crossed the finish line was an indelible memory from the track and field competition at those Games. As was 1992 Olympic champion Linford Christie‘s false-start disqualification.

5. Marie-Jose Perec pulls off 200m-400m double

The French gazelle got far less press than Johnson did for his 200m-400m double. She defended her title in the 200m and then won the 400m in an Olympic record time.

Australian Cathy Freeman took silver in the 400m, four years before she became the star of the 2000 Olympics.

6. Dan O’Brien wins decathlon

O’Brien was a redemption story in track and field, having shockingly missed the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team by no-heighting in the pole vault at the Olympic Trials.

He came back with a fervor for Atlanta, scoring 8,824 points (23 off Daley Thompson‘s Olympic record) to become the first American in 20 years to win the 10-event competition.

7. Jackie Joyner-Kersee ends career with bronze

Joyner-Kersee, at 34, was hampered by a hamstring injury going into her final Olympics. She withdrew after one event in the heptathlon, leaving her in doubt for the long jump.

She gamely qualified for the long jump final. In sixth place with one jump to go, she summoned a 23-footer to snag the bronze, her sixth career Olympic medal.

8. Morceli’s win, El Guerrouj’s fall in 1500m

The 1500m saw a clash between two of the greatest middle-distance runners of all time.

World record holder and three-time world champion Nourredine Morceli won gold, but it was what happened as the bell rung that went down in history.

Hicham El Guerrouj, then 21, tripped and fell after spiking Morceli in the right Achilles tendon going into the final lap. El Guerrouj would get up, finish 12th and last and wait eight years before winning double gold in 2004.

9. Carl Lewis ties gold-medal record

Lewis, at 35, won his fourth straight Olympic title in the long jump for his ninth career Olympic gold medal. That tied the record for most career Olympic gold medals (later to be smashed by Michael Phelps).

A debate raged over whether Lewis would be put on the U.S. 4x100m relay team later in the Games. He was not, and therefore unable to try for a solo record 10th Olympic gold. Not that it would have mattered. Canada, anchored by Bailey, won by .36 of a second over the U.S.

10. Closing Ceremony

The Games concluded with a festive night of performances that included Stevie Wonder performing John Lennon‘s “Imagine.”

International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch did not declare Atlanta the “best Games ever,” as he did in Barcelona and then in Sydney.

“Well done, Atlanta,” he said. “These Centennial Games — the Games of universality and unity — have indeed been most exceptional.”

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