ATHENS, Greece -- What had already been a bad Olympics for
decathlon world champion Tom Pappas got worse Tuesday when he injured his left foot in the pole vault and withdrew from the competition.
The injury occurred as the American ran down the runway in his
first vault attempt -- at 15 feet, 1 inch. Pappas ran through to the
pit, then walked to a nearby grassy area and sat down.
He pulled off his left shoe and sock, then ripped through tape
and began rubbing the bottom of his foot.
Pappas left the infield to have the foot rewrapped, then
returned and began testing the foot, first in running shoes, then
in spikes. He passed on the next height but decided not to continue
after talking to coaches.
Pappas, in fifth place through seven events, put his poles away,
grabbed his gear bag and limped off the field. After about an hour
in the medical treatment room beneath the stadium, he left.
He limped out of Olympic stadium with U.S. multi-events coach
Ralph Lindeman, declining to talk to reporters.
But in a lengthy statement released by USA Track & Field, Pappas
said the foot already was bothering him but got much worse on his
aborted vault attempt.
"I was trying to run more on the outside of my foot and not
worry about the pain,'' he said. "But one particular step I got a
sharp pain. It wasn't right ever since that jump. I got it retaped
and did some strides, but the pain was getting worse.''
Dr. Ed Ryan of the U.S. Olympic Committee said Pappas had an
acute strain of the left foot.
Staying in the competition was not an option, Lindeman said.
"He likely wouldn't have been able to take off to the extent
that he could have cleared a height, let alone plant his foot in
the javelin or run 1,500 meters. It was just too much pain,'' the
An American of Greek heritage, Pappas was expected to be a star
of the Athens Games. A Greek bank paid for his family to come to
Athens to watch him compete.
But he struggled in the long jump and high jump Monday, citing a
lack of confidence, and was almost certainly out of medal
contention when he withdrew.
Pappas said on Monday that he had no serious injuries, just a
few minor aches and pains.
However, he said the arch of his foot was stiff when he woke up
Tuesday, and he underwent lengthy treatment before beginning the
second day of competition.
"After the warmups, it started feeling a little better,'' he
said. "But on my last hurdle rep at the practice track, it started
The long wait between the discus and pole vault didn't help, he
"It was one of those things where it wasn't getting any
better,'' Pappas said.
After being upset by Bryan Clay at the U.S. trials, Pappas split
with his longtime coach Bill Webb to work with Brian Brophy and Kip
"I had high expectations coming into the meet,'' Pappas said.
"But more than anything I'm worried about my foot.''