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Event Preview Men Decathlon

This Decathlon could well be the next chapter in the saga opposing the USA and the Czech Republic in this discipline. Among the twenty entrants, two names stand out: the Czech Roman SEBRLE, European Champion last year in Munich, and Tom PAPPAS, Champion of the USA.

Sebrle, 28, has been the dominant figure for the last three seasons. In 2001, he was the first man to crack the seemingly unattainable total of 9,000 points (piling up precisely 9,026 in Götzis). This bested the performance of compatriot Tomas DVORAK (8,994). In 2002, he cruised to the European Champion title with 8,800 points. Finally, this season, he rubbed in his supremacy with a magnificent 8,807 points in Götzis, again posting the world’s best for the year. Seemingly unlucky in the Major Championships, except Sydney 2000 where he picked up silver, he is out to win his first major international title.

However he will be pushed hard by Tom Pappas, perhaps the great champion that the Americans have been waiting for since the retirement of Dan O’BRIEN. At 26, Pappas lived up to his billing by winning the world Pentathlon title last winter in Birmingham.

Consistently turning in 8,500 points over the last year, he broke new ground at the US Championships in Stanford on 22 June by racking up 8,784 points. Another athlete to come to the fore at this competition was Bryan CLAY.

Clay’s 8,482 points was the world’s third best performance this year, and a personal best. On an upward curve for the last two seasons, he is considered to be one for the future, but has a realistic medal chance at these games.

Nobody though should write off the old guard of Tomas Dvorak, 31, the Estonian Erki NOOL, 33, and the Russian Lev LOBODIN, 34. Lobodin has a solid pedigree including a bronze medal at the 2002 European games and a second place in the world indoor pentathlon this winter where he finished behind Pappas, but in front of Sebrle!

However, like Erki Nool, he has gone quiet in competition. The reigning Olympic champion had to settle for 8,281 points this season on his home ground at Tallinn. However he can be expected to be looking for a podium place again, as at Edmonton and Munich where he finished second.

Finally, Dvorak is nothing less than the reigning triple World champion. Enigmatically however he has failed to produce a performance so far this year, and last year dropped out of the European Championship.