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Jesse Owens Awards teleconference excerpts


Jill Geer
Chief Public Affairs Officer
USA Track & Field
(508) 520-1529

USA Track & Field on Monday announced Tom Pappas and Deena Drossin Kastor as winners of the 2003 Jesse Owens Awards. Pappas and Drossin Kastor appeared Monday afternoon on a USATF media teleconference. Below are excerpts from the teleconference. A full, digital audio replay also will be posted online at Also visit for the full press release announcing the awards.


Q: What is your reaction to winning the Jesse Owens Award?

Tom Pappas: This is quite an honor. I was looking at the previous winners, and to have my name put up alongside those guys is definitely exciting for me. I noticed I was the first decathlete to win it, which was a nice feeling. This is a huge award. For me, this is as big as it gets, to win the Jesse Owens Award and be named the male athlete of the year in the U.S. There were many great performances – Allen Johnson, Dwight Phillips winning World Indoor and Outdoor. I thought I had a chance, but to be voted the athlete of the year was a huge achievement for me.

Q: Will you compete again at the World Indoor Championships in 2004?

Tom Pappas: I will compete in the World Indoors. I think that’s definitely a meet that gets me ready for the outdoor season. I wouldn’t want to change anything. Last year at World Indoors was a great meet. I felt like I still left a lot of points out there.

Q: Other decathletes have become multimedia superstars. You’re a humble guy; what kind of opportunities do you think might come your way?

Tom Pappas: I’ve already had a lot of things come my way. I am of Greek descent, and I think that’s the biggest thing on everyone’s mind. It’s always been my goal to the win the Olympics, and I think some good things would be in store if I could pull it off.

Q: Have you gotten inquiries from the Greek media?

A: Through my web site, about 75 percent of my emails are from Greeks – media or fans. They are mostly from Greece, but I get several from Greek Americans as well. I’ve never been there (to Greece).

Q: What event is there the most room for improvement?

A: Definitely the 1,500. My shoulder was bothering me in the javelin last year. If I can get my shoulder better so I can practice, that should be a huge event for me. I think my biggest improvements will come in the technical, second-day events.

Q: Did you have shoulder surgery after Paris?

Tom Pappas: Yes I did. It was bothering me all of 2003. I had an MRI and they decided nothing was really wrong. They went in and scoped it. The rotator cuff and tendons were fine. There was some fraying of cartilage they cleaned up, and that was about it. It’s been about 8 weeks since the surgery, and I’m back to pretty much all of the normal lifts.

Q: Does being the reigning World Champion affect how you approach the Olympics?

Tom Pappas: To end the season with the confidence I have right now is a good thing, but it won’t change the way I compete.


Q: What is your reaction to winning the Jesse Owens Award?

Deena Drossin Kastor: To win this award is very flattering. It’s the greatest honor in track and field, so it’s extraordinary to think of my name joining that list. It’s extremely humbling. It was an incredible year that I was able to reach some of my goals.

Q: What have you learned from the marathon distance?

Deena Drossin Kastor: The marathon is extremely humbling. I don’t think anybody can say they’ve conquered it completely. There’s always something in that race to lessen the perfection of it, to keep you coming back for more thinking you can do better next time.

Q: When you were running in high school, could you imagine yourself winning these honors?

Deena Drossin Kastor: I guess not. What keeps me coming back year after year is hat my goals keep elevating and escalating. That’s what athletics is all about. Any athlete on any level will admit that the Olympics are always in the back of their mind, even at the young age of 11, when I started.

Q: What will you focus on at the Olympic Trials?

Deena Drossin Kastor: As of right now, the marathon is my main focus, but I plan on running the 10 and 5 km on the track. I will definitely go in the marathon if I get in the top 3 at the Trials. … If I feel good after the Olympic marathon, I would like to run a fall marathon as well.

Q: What is your thinking in making the marathon your emphasis right now.

Deena Drossin Kastor: I think it’s my strongest chance at earning a medal for the United States. I wrote out a list of pros and cons, and at the top of the list of pros is that it’s my best chance for a medal.

Q: Where will your biggest improvements come?

Deena Drossin Kastor: The biggest improvement will be in my preparation. My best preparation tends to come earlier in the year, so I need to move it so it comes later on.

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