SPORTS

Pappas, decathlon world champ, exits

What had already been a disappointing Olympics for decathlon world champion Tom Pappas turned much worse yesterday 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 4.60 meters. Pappas left the infield to have the foot rewrapped, then returned and began testing the foot, first in running shoes, then in spikes. Pappas, in fifth place through seven events, eventually 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, Pappas left. He limped out of Olympic stadium with US 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 re-taped and did some strides, but the pain was getting worse.» Dr Ed Ryan of the US Olympic Committee said Pappas had an acute strain of the left foot. Staying in the competition was no option, Lindeman said. «He likely wouldn’t have been able to take off to the extent that he could have cleared a height,» the coach said, «let alone plant his foot in the javelin or run 1,500 meters. It was just too much pain.» 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 on Monday, citing a lack of confidence, and was almost certainly out of the medals’ race when he withdrew. Pappas said 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 yesterday, 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 hurting.» The long wait between the discus and pole vault didn’t help, he said. «It was one of those things where it wasn’t getting any better,» Pappas said. After being upset by Bryan Clay at the US trials, Pappas split with his longtime coach Bill Webb to work with Brian Brophy and Kip Janvrin. (AP)