Daniel Dion O'Brien (born July 18, 1966) is an American former decathlete and Olympic gold medalist. He won the Olympic title in 1996, three consecutive world championships (1991, 1993, 1995), and set the world record in 1992.
O'Brien in 2009
|Full name||Daniel Dion O'Brien|
|Born||July 18, 1966|
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
|Height||6 ft 2 in (188 cm)|
|Weight||185 lb (84 kg)|
|Sport||Track & Field|
|College team||University of Idaho|
|Coached by||Mike Keller (UI),|
Rick Sloan (WSU)
O'Brien was born in Portland, Oregon in 1966. He is of African American and Finnish heritage, and grew up as an adopted child in an Irish-American family in Klamath Falls. He graduated from Henley High School in 1984 and then attended the University of Idaho in Moscow, where he competed in track and field for the Vandals. After initially flunking out of the university and then incurring legal difficulties, O'Brien attended Spokane Falls Community College, a community college in Spokane, Washington in 1988. He returned to the UI to compete for the Vandal track team, and complete his bachelor's degree.
O'Brien trained for his Olympic and world championships on the Palouse under Idaho's track coach Mike Keller, and Rick Sloan of Washington State in neighboring Pullman for the field events.
O'Brien competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1988; after a fast time in the 100 meters, he was injured in the long jump and withdrew. He took second place at the Goodwill Games in Seattle in 1990, behind Dave Johnson.
As the 1991 world champion, O'Brien entered the Olympic year of 1992 as the favorite to win gold in the decathlon in Barcelona and be proclaimed as the "world's greatest athlete." However, during the U.S. Olympic Trials at Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans in late June, O'Brien had a disaster in the eighth event, the pole vault. After passing at the first four (lower) heights, O'Brien entered the competition at 15 ft 9 in (4.80 m), and failed to clear the bar on all three attempts. As a result, he scored no points and dropped from first to eleventh place among the 24 decathletes. He did not make the Olympic team for Barcelona, but he continued to train for the competition held in France a few weeks after the Olympics ended.
O'Brien's "no height" in the pole vault was also a financial embarrassment for his main corporate sponsor, and for NBC television which was heavily promoting the upcoming Olympics. He appeared with U.S. rival Dave Johnson, the Goodwill Games champion, in a popular TV advertising campaign for Reebok. The series of commercials, entitled "Dan & Dave," were meant to build interest in Reebok and the decathletes, culminating in the Olympics in Barcelona. O'Brien's unexpected failure in New Orleans received considerable attention; Reebok adjusted by running new ads featuring him cheering on Dave, who went on to win the bronze medal.
O'Brien regrouped and set a world record of 8,891 points in early September in Talence, France. His marks were as follows: 100 meters in 10.43 seconds (with a tailwind); Long Jump 26 ft 6¼ in (8.08 m); Shot Put 54 ft 9¼ in (16.69 m); High Jump 6 ft 9½ in (2.07 m); 400 meters 48.51 seconds, for a first day total of 4,720 points; Day two 110 Meter High Hurdles in 13.98 seconds; Discus 159 ft 4 inches (48.56m); Pole Vault 16 ft 4¾ in (5.00 m); Javelin 205 ft 4 in (62.58m); 1,500 meter run in 4 minutes 42.10 seconds = total 8,891 points).
This stood as the world record until 1999, and the American record for nearly twenty years, until Ashton Eaton broke it in 2012 at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon. O'Brien was in attendance at Hayward Field and congratulated Eaton shortly after he completed the 1500 meters for a new world record of 9,039 points.
At the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996, O'Brien won the gold medal with 8,824 points, 118 ahead of runner-up Frank Busemann of Germany. After a break from competition, he won the Goodwill Games title in 1998, held east of New York City on Long Island, his eleventh consecutive win since 1992. A plantar fascia injury to his left foot in July 2000, shortly before the U.S. Olympic Trials, caused his withdrawal and he did not defend his title. Injuries continued and prevented his return to the Olympic trials in 2004.
In the late 1990s, Dan O'Brien appeared in ads for Italian designer Versace.
O'Brien and Dave Johnson are the subject of (and participants in) the ESPN Radio 30 for 30 podcast "The Trials of Dave and Dan" 
O'Brien has been a resident of the Phoenix area since 1997, relocating from northern Idaho. He owns Gold Medal Acceleration, a gym in Scottsdale, is a volunteer track coach at ASU, and does commentary for track and field events on television.
Honors and awardsEdit
O'Brien was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 2005, along with Dave Johnson. He was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2006, the University of Idaho Sports Hall of Fame with the large inaugural class of 2007, and the United States Olympic Hall of Fame in 2012.
The University of Idaho's outdoor track and field venue was named for O'Brien in 1996. The complex underwent a $2.5 million renovation in 2011–12, and he was on hand in Moscow in May 2012 to rededicate it.
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- Wagner, Dennis (February 10, 2012). "Failures drove gold medalist Dan O'Brien to new heights". Arizona Republic.
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- Wicks, Grace (May 2, 1992). "Athlete Dan O'Brien a good example". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. (Idaho-Washington). p. 1C.
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- "Lavine in discus finals; O'Brien sidelined". Idahonian. Moscow. July 21, 1988. p. 8A.
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- "Tragic day at the Trials". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Idaho Washington. June 29, 1992. p. 1C.
- "For Damian Warner, four years of training comes to fruition at Rio Olympics in August - Toronto Star". thestar.com. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
- "Dan O'Brien still a hero to hometown hero to fans". Ellensburg Daily Record. Washington. Associated Press. July 25, 1992. p. 6.
- Foster, Mary (June 27, 1992). "Will it be Dan or will it be Dave?". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. South Carolina. Associated Press. p. C1.
- Rodman, Bob (September 6, 1992). "Dan O'Brien earns decathlon world record". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. p. 1E.
- "Definitely Dan's day: O'Brien sets decathlon mark". Observer-Reporter. Washington, Pennsylvania. Associated Press. September 6, 1992. p. C8.
- "Dan O'Brien breaks Daley's world record". Reading Eagle. Pennsylvania. news services. September 6, 1992. p. D3.
- Rodman, Bob (June 14, 1993). "O'Brien takes aim at decathlon mark". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. p. 4B.
- "Dvorak tops O'Brien's world decathlon mark". Sarasota Herald Tribune. Florida. Associated Press. July 5, 1999. p. 2C.
- "9039 points! Eaton breaks world record before a home crowd in Eugene". IAAF. June 24, 2012. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
- Baum, Bob (August 2, 1996). "O'Brien buries memories of '92". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. Associated Press. p. 1C.
- Powell, Shaun (August 2, 1996). "O'Brien endures to win decathlon". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. (Newsday). p. 1C.
- Ventre, Michael (August 2, 1992). "O'Brien strikes Olympic gold". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Idaho-Washington. (Los Angeles Daily News). p. 1B.
- Rosenthal, Bert (July 21, 1998). "Still the greatest". Ocala Star-Banner. Florida. Associated Press. p. 1D.
- Baum, Bob (July 19, 2000). "O'Brien bows out of Olympic trials". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Idaho-Washington. Associated Press. p. 1B.
- "Injured foot to keep O'Brien from trials". Toledo Blade. Ohio. Associated Press. July 19, 2000. p. 7C.
- "Injured O'Brien 'officially done' with decathlon". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. July 9, 2004. p. C2.
- Penner, Mike (8 May 2009). "Dan O'Brien hops his way to a world record". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
- Schulman, Henry (January 10, 2011). "Sandoval said to be working hard, slimmed down". The San Francisco Chronicle.
- "O'Brien moves to Phoenix". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. wire services. January 25, 1997. p. 2D.
- White, Vera (April 14, 1994). "The house that Dan built". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Idaho-Washington. p. 1A.
- "Idaho city celebrates Dan O'Brien Day". Deseret News. Salt Lake City, Utah. Associated Press. August 19, 1996. p. B2.
- Johnson, David (August 19, 1996). "O'Brien given hero's welcome". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. p. 1A.
- Roesler, Rich (August 19, 1996). "Thousands honor hometown hero". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. A1.
- Sullivan, Tim (August 19, 1996). "A hero's homecoming". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Idaho-Washington. p. 1C.
- "Dan O'Brien - Track and Field". Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
- Brandon, Steve (October 7, 2005). "'Dan and Dave' reunion". Portland Tribune. Retrieved February 23, 2010.
- "Klamath Falls rolls red carpet for O'Brien". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. news services. September 14, 1996. p. 2D.
- "O'Brien receives hero's welcome from home town". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Idaho-Washington. Associated Press. September 16, 1996. p. 1C.
- Meehan, Jim; Lee, Greg (December 29, 1996). "A year to remember". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. C9.
- "Dan O'Brien Track and Field Complex". Spokane, Washington: Bernardo Wills Architects. 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
- "Dan O'Brien Track Complex". University of Idaho. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
- "O'Brien helps cut the ribbon on revamped track". Go Vandals.com. May 7, 2012. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
- Rokyta, Devin (May 8, 2012). "O'Brien returns to Idaho". Orlando Sentinel. Florida. (Moscow-Pullman Daily News). Retrieved July 12, 2016.
- Dan O'Brien at World Athletics
- Official website
- U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame – Dan O'Brien
- University of Idaho – Vandal Athletics Hall of Fame – Dan O'Brien
- USA Track & Field – Dan O'Brien
- Big Sky Conference – Dan O'Brien
- A "Dan & Dave" reunion - The Portland Tribune - 07-Oct-2005
- Biggest sports busts -- ESPN Page 2
| Men's Decathlon World Record Holder
September 5, 1992 – July 4, 1999
| Men's heptathlon world record holder
March 14, 1993 – March 13, 2010