The penultimate event of day one of the Decathlon proved at one least thing - the Roman Empire was not about to fall, not just yet at least.
After a below-par first three events, Olympic champion Roman Sebrle hit back to clear 2.12m – the joint best jump of the competition - as the Czech master moved ominously up the overall standings from fourth into the silver medal position on 3563 points.
Sebrle rolled back the years, to successfully clear 2.09m at the second attempt and 2.12 with his third effort with his exaggerated curl around the bar to pick up 915 points. He chose not to attempt 2.15, preferring to conserve his energy for the final event of the day, the 400m.
Maurice Smith, the surprise leader after three events, maintained his 33-point advantage, but he cannot be sitting comfortably with Sebrle now breathing down his neck. The Jamaican survived a little wobble at his opening height of 1.88, but he soon found his rhythm, safely negotiating the routine height with his second attempt, and then 1.91, 1.94 and 1.97 each at the first time of asking.
However, Smith found 2.00 a height too far and he bowed out of the competition a little disappointed to be 6cm below his lifetime best with a points haul of 776 from the event.
There was also frustration for defending champion Bryan Clay. On his second attempt at 2.00 his left foot gave way on take off and he aborted the jump diving under the bar. Clay limped away gingerly concerned that he may have caused some injury.
The American, who has a Japanese mother and was attracting good home support, decided to pass his final attempt at that height to allow his injury extra time to heal.
But a concerned-looking Clay failed to clear 2.03 and left the in-field to prepare for the next event having snared just 776 points with a best of 1.97m. He also slipped from silver to bronze in the overall standings.
The 2003 World champion Tom Pappas, who had the best lifetime in the field of 2.21, encountered problems with his approach. The US athlete, third coming into the event, needed second time clearances at 2.00 and 2.03 before his challenge floundered at 2.06. He also plunged in the overall standings from the bronze medal position to sixth, exactly 100 points behind Smith, the leader.
European bronze medallist Aleksey Drozdov, however, benefited from a good high jump. The Russian equalled his personal best of 2.12 and advanced from sixth to fourth with 3538.
Three other athletes collected 887 points for clearing 2.09. Hungarian Attila Zsivoczky in pool B and Cuban duo Alberto Juantorena, the son of the 1976 double Olympic champion, and Yordani Garcia, who equalled his lifetime best.
Overall standings after four events
1, Smith 3591
2, Sebrle 3563
3, Clay 3558
Osaka 2007 News Team/sl