16 MAR 2003 General News

Pappas looks for another healthy autumn

Tom Pappas celebrates winning the men's heptathlon (Getty Images)Tom Pappas celebrates winning the men's heptathlon (Getty Images) © Copyright

All Tom Pappas asks for is another autumn when he is healthy and can train consistently. Then, says the new Heptathlon World Indoor Champion, the world record might just be within his reach.

Pappas, aged 26, from Oregon in the United States, led the two-day competition at the 9th IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham from the first crack of the starter's gun on Saturday morning, setting six personal bests as he added nearly 250pts to his previous best score to claim the eighth best total of 6361.

"It was pretty stiff competition out there," Pappas said. "There was the Olympic Decathlon champion, the three-time World Decathlon Champion, and the Decathlon world record-holder and defending champion, so I'm feeling pretty humble right now about beating these guys."

Pappas is from a sporting family, his grandfather having been a professional wrestler, while his father was the crew chief on the team that broke the world land speed record. Now Pappas wants a world record of his own.

"I thought that with my fitness levels coming into the event I had a good chance of winning, and everything went really well all the way through until the pole vault.

"I guess part of the reason I was setting so many PRs was because I have not done so many indoor meets - I think it was only the third time I've run 60 metres. But I was fortunate last fall in that I stayed healthy and did a lot of good training, and so I was fitter and stronger than ever.

"The title World Indoor Champion sounds great.

"The one event I was not happy with was the Pole Vault. It started out really well, and I definitely think I could have gone two bars higher..." he said, indicating that rather than his 4.90m, 5.10m might be possible. “Then perhaps I could challenge Dan O'Brien's record."

Pappas's Decathlon summer is already mapped out, via Götzis in Austria, the US Nationals, and subject to selection, the IAAF World Championships in Paris. Another set of personal bests are surely due for renewal. And then perhaps the defence of his World Indoor title in 12 months' time in Budapest, where Dan O'Brien's world best of 6476pts, set in 1993, will be the target.