Tom Pappas, a 1999 University of Tennessee graduate, graced the cover of the 2004 USA Track and Field media guide. He was near the top of the list of gold-medal hopefuls.
But the reigning world champion heading into the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, found himself in fifth place after Monday, the first-of-two days of decathlon competitions.
Yesterday, all his hopes ended due to his left foot.
Pappas, the fan favorite because of his family's Greek heritage, pulled up on his approach to his first attempt in the pole vault (the eight overall event). He said one particular step gave him a sharp pain. Dr. Ed Ryan of the U.S. Olympic Committee said Pappas sustained an acute strain of his left foot.
After retaping and stretching only made the pain worse, Pappas withdrew and left the stadium without a medal.