ROME, AUG. 31 -- Khristo Markov of Bulgaria captured a world track and field championships gold medal today with the second-best triple jump ever recorded, and heptathlon world-record holder Jackie Joyner-Kersee of the United States won three of the day's four events in that specialty.
Joyner-Kersee, who twice broke the world heptathlon record last year, raising it to 7,158 points, has 4,256 here to build onto with the second day's events Tuesday. It was a world record for the first day of a heptathlon, bettering her 4,151 in the 1986 Goodwill Games in Moscow.
That put her 111 points ahead of the pace of the record she set last year in Houston and on target to become the first heptathlete to reach 7,200. Joyner-Kersee, however, was not as concerned about the world record as she was about securing the gold medal.
"I have to come out winning first," she said. "Whatever else comes . . . I'm going to concentrate on winning."
Markov gave the quiet crowd of 45,000 at 60,000-seat Olympic Stadium -- perhaps still settling down from Sunday's excitement over Ben Johnson's world record in the 100 meters -- something to cheer about with his triple jump.
The 22-year-old from Sofia jumped 58 feet 9 1/2 inches (17.92 meters) on his fourth attempt to surpass his European record of 58-4 3/4 (17.80 meters). Only Willie Banks, the American eliminated in qualifying Sunday, has a better effort anywhere (58-11 1/2, or 17.97 meters).
Like Markov, today's other gold medalists all represent Eastern Bloc countries.
Sigrun Wodars of East Germany set a national record in winning the women's 800 meters in 1 minute 55.26 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year.
Her countrywoman, Martina Hellman, won the women's discus with a meet-record 235 feet, and Olga Bryzgina of the Soviet Union took the women's 400 in 49.38, the year's quickest time.
The United States, meanwhile, still was seeking its first gold medal after three days of the eight-day meet.
Joyner-Kersee appeared ready to provide one via Tuesday's final three heptathlon events.
She began her assault on the record by registering the fastest 100-meter high hurdles, skimming over the barriers in 12.91 seconds.
She followed that by high-jumping 6-2 3/4, a personal best and the best ever by an American in the heptathlon. Then, she put the shot a personal-best 52-6 and completed her solid showing by running the 200 meters in 22.95, the fastest among the 25 heptathletes.
That gave Joyner-Kersee a 338-point lead over the Soviet Union's Larisa Nikitina, the runner-up with 3,918. Third was Yuqing Zhu of China with 3,873, with Jane Frederick of the United States fourth with 3,844 points.
Joyner-Kersee accomplished her score in 88-degree heat and 80 percent humidity that, she said, made her feel dizzy. She was on the sun-baked infield for long stretches, including more than two hours in the high jump.
She also said she felt sore, but called it "a positive soreness."
Frederick won the only event that Joyner-Kersee did not, taking the shot put with 53-5 3/4.
The three remaining heptathlon events are the long jump, Joyner-Kersee's strongest; the javelin, her weakest; and the 800 meters.
It is less than three weeks since Joyner-Kersee equaled the women's world record in the long jump, soaring 24-5 1/2 in the Pan American Games at Indianapolis.
If she wins the heptathlon gold medal -- and gets the world record -- it would be a tremendous boost to the sagging fortunes of the U.S. team. The Americans have only three medals -- two silvers and one bronze, all by the men.
Noting that shortcoming, Bob Kersee, Joyner-Kersee's coach and husband, said, "The women realize we've got to wake up and make some noise."
The second silver came today, when Mike Conley, the Olympic silver medalist and ranked No. 1 in the world in 1986, took second in the triple jump, nearly 10 inches behind Markov.
Markov, the 1985 World Indoor Games gold medalist and 1986 European champion, exceeded the world championship record on each of his three allowable jumps. First, he went a wind-aided 58-1, then 58-2, fouled, 58-9 1/2, and fouled twice.
"A fantastic event," Markov said. "Among all the athletes the only one I feared was Conley, and only a little bit."
Conley, a come-from-behind specialist, could not do it against the fired-up Markov. But he earned the silver with a leap of 57-11 3/4 on his final attempt.
The bronze medal went to the Soviet Union's Oleg Sakirkin at 57-2 1/4.
In the women's 400, Bryzgina led a one-two-three Eastern Bloc sweep, beating East Germans Petra Mueller (49.94) and Kirsten Emmelman (50.20).
The first three places in the women's 800 also went to Eastern Europeans, Christine Wachtel of East Germany taking second behind Wodars in 1:55.32 and Liubov Gurina of the Soviet Union third in 1:55.56.
The same Eastern Bloc dominance held in the women's discus, Diana Gansky of East Germany taking the silver medal at 230-1 and Tsvetanka Khristova of Bulgaria the bronze at 225-9.
Edwin Moses, the king of the men's 400-meter intermediate hurdlers, kept on pace for another crown. Moses celebrated his 32nd birthday by winning his semifinal in 48.38 and advancing to Tuesday's final.
The two-time Olympic champion, world-record holder and defending world champion clipped two or three hurdles, but said, "I'm very confident going into the final."
The only hurdlers to beat the American in the past 11 years -- Harald Schmid of West Germany, Danny Harris of the United States and Amadou Dia Ba of Senegal -- also reached the final.