Ruptured plantar fascia sidelined Pappas
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 Monday.
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 happened.''
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.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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