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Subject: Century Gold Medal Invitational Competition rss

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John Weber
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Maryland
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Every four years it’s time for the Olympics and dusting off the Decathlon game. This year it’s a special invitational competition, called the “Century Gold,” in honor of the 100th anniversary of the first Olympic decathlon, and the elite field of 20 consists of all the Olympic decathlon Gold Medal winners, from Jim Thorpe in 1912 to Brian Clay in 2008.

For the first day of competition, the athletes are divided into three groups of six or seven, based on the era in which they competed. Group one, the pre-World War II era decathletes, consists of Jim Thorpe, Helge Lovland, Harold Osborn, Paavo Yrjola, Jim Bausch and Glen Morris, covering the 1912 through 1936 Olympic winners. Group II (covering the years 1948 through 1976, inclusive) includes the first two-time winner, Bob Mathias, along with Milt Campbell, Rafer Johnson, Willi Holdorf, Bill Toomey, Nicolai Avilov and Bruce Jenner. The final group, Group III, includes the most recent winners from 1980 through 2008: two-time Champ Daley Thompson, Christian Schenk, Robert Zmelik, Dan O’Brien, Erki Nool, Roman Sebrle and Brian Clay.

First event is the 100-meter dash, just one roll of dice and no strategy options. In the first group, Morris turns in the best time (10.45) while it’s a three-way tie between Lovland, Osborn and Bausch, at 10.75. Jim Thorpe’s time is a disappointing 11.15 seconds. The top times come from group two, with Rafer Johnson (at 10.20) outsprinting Willi Holdorf (10.25) to take the race. Milt Campbell (at 10.45) edges Bob Mathias (10.50) for third. Bill Toomey (at 10.80) and Bruce Jenner (at 11.25) turn in subpar performances. Nothing spectacular in the final group, with Sebrle (at 10.50) crossing first. Christian Schenk (last at 11.20) has some time to make up.

Standings after 1 Event:

1. Johnson (USA) 1047
2. Holdorf (GER) 1035
3. (tie) Campbell (USA) and Morris (USA) 987
4. (tie) Mathias (USA) and Sebrle (CZE) 975

Next event is the long jump; each decathlete gets three attempts. In the first group, Jim Thorpe gets off on the wrong foot, fouling in his first attempt. Osborn (at 23-9) is best in the initial round of efforts, then Thorpe uncorks a 24-1 in his second attempt, joined by countryman Bausch at 24 feet, but the two are bested by Finland’s Yrjola, who reaches 24-9 but then passes on his third effort. No one going all-out is able to improve in the third round of attempts, so it’s on to group two. Campbell and Avilov begin with fouls, while Holdorf is the first to succeed on an all-out attempt, floating out to 24 feet, 11 inches. Then, in his final attempt, Rafer Johnson goes 25-3, more than enough to retain the lead; Holdorf is in second. Great first efforts by O’Brien (24-8) and Clay (24-10) lead off for the final group. Zmelik suffers an injury on his second attempt, and lingering effects are likely to kill his medal hopes. Daley Thompson lets loose with a 25-5 on his final try, and this holds up as the best jump. Erki Nool sneaks through a 25-2 in his final effort to improve his position. Consistent performances move Bryan Clay into the top five.

Standings after 2 Events:

1. Johnson (USA) 2032
2. Holdorf (GER) 1987
3. Thompson (GBR) 1914
4. Clay (USA) 1904
5. O’Brien (USA) 1903

Third event of the day is the first strength event – the shotput. Thorpe leads off the “old-timers” group and puts the shot an even 59 feet with his first toss to set a high standard. However, the 60-foot barrier is crossed, first by Bausch (with a 62-8 toss) and then Yrjola (at 62-1); Morris recovers from a foul to come close at 59-7. Yrjola improves to 64-2 with his final throw, but Bausch responds with an even better 64-10 (all three of Bausch’s tosses were over 62 feet). The second group does not get off to a good start, as Holdorf pulls a hamstring on his first throw. Campbell settles for 57-even, declining his third attempt. Mathias, who started slowly, is over 60 feet in his final attempt – scoring 1000 points exactly -- to remain in contention. Not to be outdone, Johnson uncorks a 61-7 to keep his spot atop the standings. The third group struggles, and a groin injury hampers Dan O’Brien’s progress but, fortunately, he had one good throw (over 55 feet) already in the books. Brian Clay and Daley Thompson keep their hopes alive with solid but unspectacular throws.

Standings (all 20 competitors) after 3 Events:

1. Johnson (USA) 3056
2. Bausch (USA) 2892
3. Yrjola (FIN) 2825
4. Holdorf (GER) 2823
5. Mathias (USA) 2817
6. O’Brien (USA) 2807
7. Clay (USA) 2772
8. Morris (USA) 2760
9. Sebrle (CZE) 2742
10. Thompson (GBR) 2731
11. Campbell (USA) 2705
12. Nool (EST) 2704
13. Thorpe (USA) 2698
14. Osborn (USA) 2654
15. Schenk (GER) 2631
16. Lovland (NOR) 2627
17. Avilov (SOV) 2608
18. Toomey (USA) 2590
19. Jenner (USA) 2536
20. Zmelik (CZE) 2521

Continuing injuries plague Holdorf, Smelik and O’Brien – one more injury result and these decathletes will be forced to withdraw. For now, it’s on to the high jump pit – can Rafer Johnson continue his string of excellent results?
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John Weber
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Re: Century Gold Medal Invitational Competition, Events 4 and 5
Event 4 – High Jump

As expected, a lot of tactics at work as many decathletes pass at the lower heights to minimize the number of jumps to avoid the effect of fatigue on the final event of the first day, the 400 meter run. Thorpe and Yrjola wait until the bar reaches 6-8, while Osborn passes all the way up to 6-10. Bausch has one miss at the lowly height of 6-2. Lovland barely clears his first attempts at 6-1, 6-3 and 6-5. Bausch, who clears 6-4, is first of the group to drop after three misses at 6-5 and 6-6. Lovland clears 6-6 on his third attempt and then drops out after one miss at 6-7, conserving energy for the 400. Morris, who did not miss at two lower heights, clears 6-9 after one miss, and then repeats this feat at 6-10, one inch below his personal best, before bowing out to focus on the 400. This leaves Yrjola, Thorpe and Osborn. Yrjola clears 6-8, then misses once at 6-11 before clearing; the Finn cannot improve on this, missing twice at 7-0 and then a third time at 7-1. Thorpe does not miss until the bar reaches 7-2, which he clears after two misses; after one miss at 7-3, Thorpe settles for 980 points which moves him up the list. Osborne takes only three jumps, at 6-10, 7-1 and 7-3, to lead the older group. He passes at 7-4, then clears 7-5 to make it four clearances in four attempts. Three straight misses at 7-6 and Osborn is done, but the additional 1055 points come in handy, moving him ahead of Thorpe and within striking distance of Yrjola.

The second group takes to the high jump pit. Avilov, the best of this bunch, does not take off his sweats until the bar reaches 6-7. By then Holdorf is done, clearing 6-3 before three successive misses at 6-5, soon followed by Johnson, whose points lead is due to be eroded after a sensational start. Toomey clears 6-8, has one miss at 6-9, then decides to pack it in, saving energy for the 400. Campbell comes close to a personal best, clearing 6-9 after two misses at 6-8, then moves on to the next event. Jenner did not miss until the bar reached 6-9, when he missed three times; his best height was 6-7, a bit of a disappointment for the 1976 Olympic Champ who would need a strong day two to recover. Only Avilov and Mathias were left as the bar was raised to 6-11. Mathias took only one attempt, missing and settling for 6-9. Avilov, missing once then clearing at 6-11, passes at 7-0 and then attempts 7-1, which he clears with ease. It then takes three attempts for the Soviet athlete to clear 7-2, and Avilov decides to stop at this point as he is close to his all-time personal best of 7-4.

Finally, the most recent group of gold medalists essays the high jump. Clay struggles at the lower heights, missing once at 6-2 and twice at 6-7. After one bad miss at 6-8, Clay concedes defeat and moves on. Next out is Erki Nool, who cleared 6-9 after two misses. The 7-1 height eliminates Thompson and Zmelik, while O’Brien and Sebrle each clear on their final attempt. Schenk, the best high jumper in this group, easily makes 7-2 while Sebrle is over over his second attempt after O’Brien passes. After one miss at 7-3, O’Brien is content with his 7-1 height and conserves energy for the 400, after moving to second overall behind Johnson. Sebrle stops after clearing 7-2, leaving Schenk as the bar moves up to 7-4. There the German suffers his first miss, but he finally clears on his third attempt. He gambles, passing at 7-5 but three misses at 7-6 and he is through, willing to accept a small time penalty for his extra efforts.

Here’s the standings after four events:

1. Johnson (USA) 3796
2. O’Brien (USA) 3762
3. Yrjola (FIN) 3732
4. Sebrle (CZE) 3722
5. Osborn (USA) 3709
6. Thorpe (USA) 3678
7. Mathias (USA) 3676
8. Schenk (GER) 3661
9. Morris (USA) 3643
10. Bausch (USA) 3632
11. Thompson (GBR) 3614
12. Avilov (SOV) 3588
13. Clay (USA) 3583
14. Campbell (USA) 3564
15. Nool (EST) 3563
16. Holdorf (GER) 3540
17. Zmelik (CZE) 3428
18. Toomey (USA) 3425
19. Lovland (NOR) 3414
20. Jenner (USA) 3347

On to the final event of Day 1, the 400 meter run. One lap of the track. The old-timer’s group takes to the track first. Morris and Osborn are off quickly, with Morris taking the lead as Osborn drops back near the halfway mark. Thorpe recovers from a poor start to settle into second, passing Osborne. Lovland and Bausch linger at the rear. Morris pulls away to win the heat, posting a time of 47.65. Thorpe, Osborn and Yrjola follow, and the gaps between these four in the overall points are closed. Bausch, who finishes last, loses major ground, and Lovland is far behind now.

The second group features Johnson, the meet leader. Rafer gets off to a strong start, followed closely by Toomey with Campbell, Mathias and Jenner following in a tight pack. Holdorf, struggling with his earlier injury, trails badly. Toomey struggles to keep up with the blistering pace set by Johnson, but he begins to gain ground in the third 100. Avilov pulls a muscle and drops back. Toomey powers his way past a fading Johnson in the stretch to win the heat in a time of 46.2. However, Johnson is clocked at 46.7, which should be enough to retain the points lead. Campbell comes home third with a decent time of 47.6, while Mathias’ time of 48.9 is good enough to keep him within striking distance of a medal position.

Final group includes O’Brien and Sebrle, who are both in contention for medals at this point; however, O’Brien is slowed by an injury sustained during the shotput. Double gold medallist Daley Thompson sets the early pace. Nool stays with Thompson and blasts by the Brit at the three-quarters mark. Despite the injury, Dan O’Brien is able to challenge Brian Clay but Zmelik, also suffering from injury effects, is hopelessly behind. A nice stretch run enables Thompson to regain the lead and take the heat, with a time of 47.1 to 47.3 for Nool. Sebrle, third in 48.0, moves to second overall behind Johnson. O’Brien limps home in 50.65, having been passed in the final 100 Km by Clay.

End of day one, here’s the standings:

1. Johnson (USA) 4769
2. Sebrle (CZE) 4631
3. Morris (USA) 4569
4. Thompson (GBR) 4567
5. Yrjola (FIN) 4560
6. Osborn (USA) 4549
7. Thorpe (USA) 4547
8. O’Brien (USA) 4547
9. Schenk (GER) 4546
10. Mathias (USA) 4542
11. Nool (EST) 4506
12. Campbell (USA) 4493
13. Toomey (USA) 4423
14. Bausch (USA) 4410
15. Clay (USA) 4402
16. Avilov (SOV) 4393
17. Holdorf (GER) 4307
18. Jenner (USA) 4227
19. Lovland (NOR) 4213
20. Zmelik (CZE) 4144
 
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John Weber
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Re: Century Gold Medal Invitational Competition, Day 2, Events 6 & 7

Day 2 starts off with the 110 meter high hurdles. The 20 decatheletes are once again paired in three groups, this time based on their day 1 point totals, with the top eight comprising the third and final group. Lovland (at 13.8) and Avilov (at 13.85) are the quickest of the first group. In the second group, Campbell blazes through the hurdles with an excellent time, 13.25 seconds, moving up considerably in the standings. Bob Mathias (at 14.1) also has a good run, but Christian Schenk bangs his knee against a hurdle, almost crashing out, but recovering although he will suffer the lingering effects of the injury for the rest of the competition.

It’s time for the leading group to take to the track. This time, it’s a close race all the way, with Osborn (clocking 13.75) the best of the group, followed closely by Sebrle (13.85) and meet leader Rafer Johnson (13.95). The relatively pedestrian times of many in the lead group leads to a shake-up in the standings, with Campbell shooting all the way up from 12th to third place overall, ahead of Osborne who is now fourth. Johnson still leads by 125 points over Sebrle, who gained some ground in the hurdles.

Standing after 6 Events:

1. Johnson (USA) 5750
2. Sebrle (CZE) 5625
3. Campbell (USA) 5568
4. Osborn (USA) 5556
5. Thompson (GBR) 5522
6. Mathias (USA) 5504
7. Thorpe (USA) 5483
8. Morris (USA) 5480
9. O’Brien (USA) 5439
10. Yrjola (FIN) 5434
11. Avilov (SOV) 5387
12. Toomey (USA) 5347
13. Nool (EST) 5343
14. Schenk (GER) 5336
15. Bausch (USA) 5309
16. Holdorf (GER) 5262
17. Clay (USA) 5245
18. Lovland (NOR) 5213
19. Jenner (USA) 5113
20. Zmelik (CZE) 5074

Event 7 - Discus Throw

The decathletes move to the discus ring. In the first group of tailenders, Bruce Jenner finally finds an event to his liking, doing well with a 173 foot toss, but he’s still one foot short of Holdorf, who seems to have shaken off the effects of the prior day’s injury. But, best of the first group is Lovland, who reaches 182 on his first, and only, legal throw. Zmelik, unable to reach 140 on his best effort, falls even further behind.

Second group takes to the arena. Mathias goes 182 on his first effort. Bausch goes two feet further than Mathias in his first throw. On the second round of throws, Mathias improves to 183 while Bausch (hitting 187 feet) does even better. Campbell starts with a foul but finally gets on the board with a 169 foot effort to remain in the medal hunt. Bausch, who earnes 1016 points for his effort, zooms up the standings as a result.

The top group follows. Johnson cements his leading position by hitting 189 feet on his first toss, an excellent effort; Johnson decides to pass his remaining attempts. Only one competitor, Yrjola of Finland, is able to top Johnson, hitting 191 feet. Daley Thompson struggles, fouling twice, and he slips several spots in the standings as a result. Thorpe appeared to be slipping back as well before uncorking a 177-foot toss in his final attempt to remain in striking distance.

Standings after 7 Events:

1. Johnson (USA) 6778
2. Sebrle (CZE) 6527
3. Mathias (USA) 6496
4. Yrjola (FIN) 6474
5. Campbell (USA) 6470
6. Morris (USA) 6440
7. Thorpe (USA) 6437
8. Osborn (USA) 6421
9. Thompson (GBR) 6363
10. Bausch (USA) 6325
11. O’Brien (USA) 6286
12. Avilov (SOV) 6263
13. Lovland (NOR) 6200
14. Holdorf (GER) 6196
15. Nool (EST) 6149
16. Toomey (USA) 6118
17. Schenk (GER) 6069
18. Clay (USA) 6062
19. Jenner (USA) 6042
20. Zmelik (CZE) 5783

With a 200-plus point lead, is Rafer Johnson heading toward the gold medal? The next event, the pole vault, is not one of his strongest.
 
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John Weber
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Re: Century Gold Medal Invitational Competition - Event 8
Event 8 – Pole Vault

Group one leads off. Lovland, coming off a strong performance in the discus, struggles in this event, finally falling short in three attempts at 15-1 after clearing 14-9. Clay and Holdorf each clear 15-1 but falter at 15-9 while Avilov, after a miss at 15-5, clears that height and 15-9 on his second attempt. Avilov is out at 16-1, a height Jenner clears on his first attempt; meanwhile, Zmelik, with little left to lose at this point, remains on the sidelines until the bar reaches 17 feet. When Jenner crashes out in three successive tries at 16-8, Zmelik has the pole vault pit to himself. Zmelik clears 17-0 on his first attempt, but he is quickly done it at 17-4 with three misses.

Second group is up next. Campbell, not strong in this event, starts off doing well at the lower heights, clearing 13-5 and 13-9, but then he takes the maximum number of attempts to clear 14-1. Toomey starts at this height and clears on his second try. Campbell misses all three tries at 14-5 and is done, losing more ground in the race for medals. Schenk then joins the fray, clearing 14-9 on his first attempt. Toomey clears 15-1 on his third and final attempt, then bows out after one unsuccessful try at 5-5, conserving energy for the remaining events. Mathias, who also cleared 15-1 but with fewer misses, takes the maximum number of attempts at 15-5 before bowing out as well. Schenk, Bausch and Nool (who has yet to unzip his warm-ups) are still left. Bausch misses once at 15-5, thens clears this height and 15-9 in rapid succession. Schenk passes two lower heights to get to 15-9, which he finally clears on his third and final try. He then makes the next height (16-1), also on his final attempt. With seven total attempts in the book, Schenk decides to move on, adding 880 points to his total. Nool then sails over 16-5 on his first attempt, and Bausch does the same. Both then pass the next height (16-8) and watch as the bar is raised to 17 feet. Once again, both clear on their initial efforts. Nool passes the next height (17-4), but Bausch takes his last two attempts and comes up short but improves his medal prospects with a strong showing. Nool then is left alone, tackling his third height at 17-8, but three successive misses mean he joins Bausch on the sidelines, both credited with the same 17-0 height.

Rafer Johnson and his closest pursuer, Roman Sebrle, tackle the pole vault, along with the other decathletes in the final group. Yrjola leads off, barely clearing 13-1. Then, in a shocker, Glen Morris no-heights, failing three times at the relatively low height of 13-5. Having seen disaster strike Morris, Johnson carefully approaches his first height (13-9) and, calmly and coolly, clears on his first attempt. As Rafer is the only one attempting this height, he is soon back in action at 14-1 – and barely clears on his first attempt. Yrjola and Thorpe also clear this height, with the Finn taking two attempts to do so. Johnson and Thorpe are the only ones to try at 14-5. Both miss the first time around, then Johnson comes through with an easy clearance. Thorpe misses again and, down to his last attempt, he clangs his pole agains the bar and is out. Tough break, as Thorpe plummets all the way down to 10th in the standings.

Johnson keeps going, clearing 14-9. Yrjola misses all three tries at this height and is done. Johnson passes the next height, waiting for the bar to reach 15-5. Osborne starts out with a clearance at 15-1, then passes at 15-5. Sebrle, Thompson and O’Brien remain on the sidelines as Johnson goes at 15-5. He fails twice and decides to conserve energy for later events, scoring 790 points to keep the pressure on Sebrle, his nearest rival at this point. Sebrle and Thompson respond by clearing 15-9 on their initial vaults of the competition, but O’Brien falls short in his first try. Osborn clears 15-9 on his second try but, in a risky move, O’Brien passes and allows the bar to reach 16-5 with one strike against him. Sebrle rattles the bar but is clear in his first attempt at 16-5. Thompson misses, then O’Brien’s gamble pays off as he clears this height.

Thompson clears 16-5 on his final attempt, so the trio of Sebrle, Thompson and O’Brien remain as the bar is hoisted to 16 feet, 8 inches. All three decline at this height, so the bar goes up another four inches to 17 feet. All three come up short in their first attempts. Ditto for the second efforts, although Thompson comes close. Sebrle fails in a weak third effort, but he has sliced the margin to Johnson in half. Thompson and O’Brien are also eliminated, posting 16-5 marks, the same as Sebrle, to keep their respective medal hopes alive, although O’Brien is a long shot at this point.

Standings after 8 Events:

1. Johnson (USA) 7568
2. Sebrle (CZE) 7437
3. Bausch (USA) 7297
4. Mathias (USA) 7286
5. Thompson (GBR) 7273
6. Osborn (USA) 7270
7. O’Brien (USA) 7196
8. Yrjola (FIN) 7176
9. Campbell (USA) 7172
10. Thorpe (USA) 7139
11. Nool (EST) 7114
12. Avilov (SOV) 7112
13. Holdorf (GER) 6986
14. Lovland (NOR) 6960
15. Schenk (GER) 6949
16. Jenner (USA) 6922
17. Toomey (USA) 6908
18. Clay (USA) 6852
19. Zmelik (CZE) 6755
20. Morris (USA) 6440
 
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John Weber
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Re: Century Gold Medal Invitational Competition - Event 9
Event 9 – Javelin

Nothing spectacular from the first group in this event. Avilov, the best placed in 12th, goes 226 feet in his first effort – a mark that is matched by Brian Clay in his second attempt. Jenner unleashes a 249-foot toss in his second effort, while the rest of the group is struggling to get past the 200-foot mark. Lovland, going all-out, fouls on his first two efforts and has to pull the reins in with his final, “safe” attempt that barely makes it to the 200-foot mark. Jenner improves to 265 feet with an excellent final attempt; this is good enough to move the 1976 Gold medal winner ahead of his contemporary rival, Avilov, in the standings.

The next group, which includes Bausch, Mathias and Campbell – all still in medal contention – lines up to throw. Mathias fouls in his first effort, while Bausch and Campbell both register legal throws in the 220-foot range. On the second round of throws, Bausch improves to 248 while Mathias can only manage a sub-220 effort. Schenk, clearly bothered by his earlier injury, cannot best 200 feet and slips even further in the standings. Mathias comes up with a groin strain on his final attempt, and he also loses ground in the medal race as he must accept his only legal throw (217 feet) for this event. Campbell goes all-out on his last two efforts but is unable to top the 221 from his first attempt. Toomey unleashes a mighty 236-foot throw in his final attempt, but it is probably a case of “too little, too late” for the 1968 Olympic Champion.

The final group is led off by Johnson, who does not manage to make much of an impression with a very weak, conservative initial effort. Sebrle, going right after Rafer, fouls – failing to take advantage. Thorpe also misses with his first throw, and no one goes better than the 229 feet registered by Thompson on their initial efforts. Johnson fouls on his second throw. Significantly, Sebrle goes 223, a distance that is good enough to overtake Johnson in the standings if the results thus far hold. Going all-out in his second attempt, Thompson strains a muscle and will have to deal with the effects of the injury the rest of the way. Big final attempt for Johnson, but his throw is just foul. Thus, he is forced to accept a 163-foot throw (from his initial “safe” attempt), and this will cost him in the battle for the gold medal. Thompson, unable to improve on his first throw, still manages to gain ground and actually eases past the flagging Johnson in the standings. Paavo Yrjola does the best of the final group, reaching 244 feet on his final effort. On the other end of the scale, Dan O’Brien fouls on all three of his attempts, effectively removing him from the competition.

Standings after 9 Events:

1. Sebrle (CZE) 8296
2. Bausch (USA) 8272
3. Thompson (GBR) 8160
4. Johnson (USA) 8152
5. Yrjola (FIN) 8133
6. Mathias (USA) 8118
7. Osborn (USA) 8115
8. Campbell (USA) 8022
9. Jenner (USA) 7990
10. Thorpe (USA) 7989
11. Avilov (SOV) 7985
12. Nool (EST) 7959
13. Toomey (USA) 7828
14. Holdorf (GER) 7762
15. Clay (USA) 7725
16. Lovland (NOR) 7713
17. Schenk (GER) 7697
18. Zmelik (CZE) 7476
19. Morris (USA) 7327
20. O’Brien (USA) 7196

So, Sebrle and Bausch move ahead in the race for the gold medal. With Bausch going in an earlier heat, Sebrle will have a target to shoot for in the final event, the grueling 1500 meter run. With five decathletes within 50 points of each other for third place, all three medals are still definitely up for grabs.
 
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Re: Century Gold Medal Invitational Competition - Final Event and Results

Final Event - 1500 Meters

First group takes to the track as the lights are now on in the stadium. The field splits into two groups right away, with Avilov, Jenner and Lovland moving ahead while Clay, Holdorf and Zmelik fall back. Holdorf picks up the pace and catches up to Jenner and Lovland by the end of the first lap. Avilov leads by about 20 meters at this point, with Zmelik trailing. By the end of lap two, Jenner pulls into a clear second, closing some ground on Avilov, who seems to be showing the effects of fatigue from the extra attempts at the pole vault earlier on day two. On the third lap, both Jenner and a surging Lovland catch Avilov. Clay drops to last, after being caught by Zmelik. Each runner then rolls individually, starting on the fourth lap. Avilov and Lovland shake off the effects of tiredness and begin to pull away from Jenner on the final lap. Lovland gradually pulls ahead, while Jenner moves up to be shoulder-to-shoulder with Avilov. Final times for this group: Lovland, 4:16; Avilov and Jenner, 4:20; Holdorf, 4:34; Zmelik, 4:54; Clay, 4:56. At this point, Jenner is the tentative leader, with 8802 points, five ahead of Avilov.

The second group features Bausch, now in contention for the gold medal. As the guns goes off, Bausch settles into a comfortable pace – perhaps too comfortable – and drops to the rear of this six-man group. Toomey shoots to the early lead, with the remaining four in a tightly-bunched group about 15-20 meters behind after the first lap. On the second lap, Schenk pulls to a clear second, with Mathias and Nool shoulder-to-shoulder in a battle for third. There’s a tremendous incentive here, for if Mathias can better Bausch’s time by at least 20 seconds, he could move up in the overall standings, but Bob will be battling the adverse effects of that groin injury suffered in his final toss in the javelin.

The third lap sees Schenk gain some ground to close the gap to Toomey. Mathias and Nool are still running together, with Campbell a step or two behind. Bausch still trails badly. It comes down to the final lap. Schenk pulls close to Toomey, but the lingering effects of injury kick in and cause him to fall back. Similarly, Nool begins to pull away from Mathias in the race for third in this group. Mathias fades badly in the final lap, dropping behind Campbell, while Bausch struggles but finishes gamely. Final times for this group: Toomey, 4:26; Schenk, 4:36; Nool, 4:44; Campbell, 4:50; Mathias, 4:58; Bausch, 5:04. Bausch, while coming last in the group, did just enough to take the points lead, seven up on Jenner and over 100 ahead of Mathias who performance was clearly hampered by injury. However, there are still several challengers in the final group who have the potential of dashing Bausch’s medal hopes.

The final group, featuring five guys still in medal contention – Sebrle, Thompson, Johnson, Yrjola and Osborn – takes to the track. The runners set a quicker pace than in the prior heats, with Osborn holding a slight lead over Johnson, Morris, Yrjola and Thorpe. Things settle into a saner pace for lap two, with Morris, Yrjola and Thorpe closing the gap to Osborn while Johnson slows a bit. Midway through lap three, Yrjola moves to the front and is on pace to set a good time, in the 4:10 to 4:15 range. Thorpe and Morris are equal second, about 20 meters back while Osborn has slipped to fourth.

On the final lap, Yrjola maintains a steady pace while Thorpe gradually pulls away from Morris a solid second place position. Down the stretch, Osborn gets by a flagging Morris for third. Yrjola sets the fastest time of any of the decathletes, a 4:13. Others record the following times: Thorpe, 4:16; Osborn, 4:20; Morris, 4:20; Morris, 4:30; Thompson, 4:33; Johnson, 4:36; O’Brien, 5:03.

Translating the results into points, Thompson picks up 725 points, enough to move past the leader, Bausch. Despite the slow time, Johnson (gaining 706 points) also moves past Bausch. Another 839 points put Thorpe at 8828, ahead of Bausch but behind the other contenders in this group. Osborn’s time is good for 821 points, enough to move him past Thompson and into bronze medal position. Yrjola, winner of the final heat, adds 860 points to move into silver medal position. But, in the end, Roman Sebrle was able to hang on to the overall lead, adding 745 points for a winning score of 9041 points.

Final Standings:

1. Sebrle (CZE) 9041
2. Yrjola (FIN) 8993
3. Osborn (USA) 8927
4. Thompson (GBR) 8885
5. Johnson (USA) 8858
6. Thorpe (USA) 8828
7. Bausch (USA) 8809
8. Jenner (USA) 8802
9. Avilov (SOV) 8797
10. Mathias (USA) 8689
11. Campbell (USA) 8641
12. Nool (EST) 8614
13. Toomey (USA) 8599
14. Lovland (NOR) 8552
15. Holdorf (GER) 8481
16. Schenk (GER) 8403
17. Clay (USA) 8308
18. Morris (USA) 8139
19. Zmelik (CZE) 8071
20. O’Brien (USA) 7739
 
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