ATHENS, Greece -- Sometime during the Olympic decathlon, Tom
Pappas ruptured the plantar fascia tendon in his left foot. A
medical test on Wednesday discovered the injury that forced him to
withdraw from competition.
"It's very disappointing,'' said Pappas, the American world
champion. "This is a title that means more to me than anything
else there is to win.''
Pappas wasn't sure when it happened, but said his foot initially
felt sore during the high jump on the first day of decathlon
The next morning the pain had worsened when he awoke, but he
remained confident he could contend for a gold medal. Pappas felt
better as events resumed Tuesday in the 110-meter hurdles and
discus, but everything ended on his first pole vault attempt.
"A real sharp pain,'' he recalled. "I could tell something
The injury will require Pappas to wear a walking boot for one
month, followed by about two more months of rehabilitation. He was
planning to take the next six weeks off anyway, so the injury is
merely an inconvenience.
Pappas was in fifth place and unlikely to win a medal when he
stopped. U.S. teammate Bryan Clay won the silver behind world
record holder Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic. Pappas said his
Olympic finish left him empty.
"Right now, my focus is to get myself healed,'' he said. "I
still think I have some good years in me. Next year, I'm definitely
going to be hungry.''
Pappas came to Athens as one of the most visible and hyped U.S.
athletes -- a world champion of Greek descent competing in his
grandfather's homeland. He said he has been treated kindly by Greeks
who were interested in his bloodlines.
"They seem a lot like the way my grandfather is -- really proud
people,'' Pappas said.