Tomas Dvorak after winning the 1997 world decathlon title in Athens (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Tomas Dvorak breaks O'Brien's Decathlon record

Tomas Dvorak of the Czech Republic broke American Dan O'Brien's world decathlon record Sunday, scoring 8,994 points in a European Cup event.

O'Brien set the previous mark of 8,891 in 1992 in Talence, France, after failing to qualify for the U.S. team for the Barcelona Olympics.

Dvorak, 27 had a previous best of 8,837 points in his 1997 World Championship victory in Athens, Greece. He was the bronze medallist in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Dvorak, competing in 32-degree Celsius conditions at Strahov stadium, ran the final 1500-metre event in 4:37.20 to break the record.

"Only a couple of points and I would have had 9,000, but at least I'll have some motivation for next time," Dvorak said.

Dvorak was 75 points behind O'Brien's record pace after the first five events Saturday. The Czech star set three personal bests Saturday, with a time of 10.54 seconds in the 100 metres and marks of 7.90 metres in the long jump and 16.76 metres in the shot put.

He also cleared 2.04 metres in the high jump, and ran the 400 in 48.08 seconds.

On Sunday, Dvorak won the 110 hurdles in 13.73 seconds and had personal bests of 48.33 metres in the discus and 72.32 metres in the javelin.

After clearing 4.90 metres in the pole vault, Dvorak was still 76 points behind O'Brien's pace. The Czech star passed up three attempts at 5 metres.

"I saved my energy for the javelin," said Dvorak, who earned 925 points for the strong javelin effort to move 72 points ahead of O'Brien's record pace.

To tie O'Brien's record, Dvorak needed to run the 1500 in 4:53.87, well off his personal best of 4:29.69. He needed to run 4:36.34 to break the 9,000 barrier.

"The conditions were exceptionally good," Dvorak said.

He said he had a reasonable chance to clear the 9,000-point barrier, but made a mistake in the second lap of the 1500.

"We slowed down a bit and we got punished," Dvorak said. "I had enough power in the last lap, but it was too late.

"If I had performed beyond 9,000 points, I would have had a message for O'Brien, but now it's better to shut up.

"I will take a week off now and then prepare for the World Championships in Spain."

The record performance makes Dvorak the favourite for the World Championships in Seville in August. O'Brien was injured for the U.S. Championships, and did not qualify for the team.

Dvorak set four personal bests en route to the Olympic bronze and six bests when he won the world title. He also won the 1995 European Cup and the Czech 110 hurdles titles in 1994-96 and 1998.

Ondrej Hejma (AP) for the IAAF