Dan O'Brien's Heptathlon world best of 6476pts, set in Toronto in 1993, included a relatively pedestrian 2min 57.96se 1,000-metre run at the conclusion of the two-day competition. Here, at the 9th IAAF World Indoor Championships, O'Brien's successor as the United States's top multi-eventer, Tom Pappas, would need to run nearly 12sec faster than ever before - 2:40.98 - if he were to challenge for the world record.
But after losing ground to Lev Lobodin in the pole vault, Pappas knew that it would take the run of his life if, having led the event from early on Saturday morning, he was not to lose the gold medal in the final strides. Pappas's job here was to beat Lobodin rather than to beat history.
So through the first two laps, Pappas ran steadily, keeping the Russian in sight. Job done: in a race won by Tomas Dvorak (2:41.98), Lobodin crossed the finish in 2:48.25, and Pappas chased him home just 3sec later in 2:51.65 to score 748pts,
The run was Pappas's sixth personal best of the two days and gave him 6361pts - the eighth best tally ever, with Lobodin scoring 6297 and Roman Sebrle, the defending champion, 6196, just beating Jon Arnar Magnusson (6185) for the bronze in the best in-depth Heptathlon seen since the 1999 World Indoors in Maebashi, Japan.