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Pappas, Drossin Kastor win Jesse Owens Awards
12-1-2003

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Tom Surber
Media Information Manager
USA Track & Field
(317) 713-4690
Tom.Surber@usatf.org

INDIANAPOLIS – World champion decathlete Tom Pappas and long distance runner extraordinaire Deena Drossin Kastor on Monday were named recipients of the 2003 Jesse Owens Awards by USA Track & Field.

Established in 1981, The Jesse Owens Award is USA Track & Field's highest accolade, presented annually to the outstanding U.S. male and female track and field performers. The 2003 Jesse Owens Awards will be presented December 5 at the Jesse Owens Awards Dinner and Xerox Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, held at USA Track & Field's 2003 Annual Meeting in Greensboro, N.C.

With his gold-medal performances in the decathlon at the World Outdoor Championships and the heptathlon at World Indoors, as well as a #1 world ranking from the IAAF, Pappas had the most successful season by a U.S. decathlete in a decade and established himself as one of the greatest decathletes in U.S. history.

Pappas began his year with an upset win in the heptathlon at the World Indoor Championships, where he totaled 6,361 points to defeat decathlon world record holder Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic and became the first American since Dan O’Brien in 1993 to win World Indoors. When Pappas and Sebrle next met at Gotzis on June 1, Pappas posted a personal-best in the decathlon with 8,585 points, placing behind Sebrle’s 8,807. But Gotzis turned out to be Pappas’ warm-up act. His total of 8,784 points at the USA Outdoor Championships earned him his third U.S. title, a new personal best, and made him the #2 American of all-time, trailing only former world record holder O’Brien. He then accomplished what no American since O’Brien in 1995 had done, winning the gold medal in the decathlon at the World Outdoor Championships. Pappas’ total of 8,750 again relegated world record holder and defending champion Sebrle to second place (8,634).

In 2003, Drossin Kastor continued her dominance as America’s finest long-distance runner by breaking the American record for the marathon with her third-place time of 2:21:16 at the Flora London Marathon April 13. Her time broke the previous mark of 2:21:21 set by Joan Benoit Samuelson in 1985, and was one of many highlights for Drossin Kastor in 2003.

Drossin Kastor won her second consecutive silver medal in the long-course race (8 km) at the World Cross Country Championships March 29 while leading Team USA to the team bronze in Switzerland, a performance that came after she won her sixth career U.S. 8 km cross county title. On March 8, Drossin Kastor won her fourth consecutive U.S. 15 km road title, bettering her own American record in 47:15 – nearly a minute better than her previous record of 48:12. Drossin Kastor’s spring successes carried over to the summer as she ran the fastest times by an American on the track at 3,000m (8:48.66), 5,000m (15:08.14) and 10,000m (31:17.86). She won her third USA 10,000m track title (31:28.97) and went on to place 12th at the World Outdoor Championships (31:17.86).

“All of us at USATF congratulate Tom and Deena for being voted the Jesse Owens Award winners,” said USATF President Bill Roe. “They both had tremendous seasons in 2003 and are very deserving of this honor.”

“Tom had a true breakthrough year in the decathlon, and he now takes a place among the all-time great American decathletes, from Rafer Johnson to Bruce Jenner and Dan O’Brien.” said USATF CEO Craig A. Masback. “Deena continued her reign as America’s finest women’s distance star by breaking a record owned by one of the pioneers of women’s running. We congratulate them both and wish them future success, in 2004 and beyond.”

Male nominees for the 2003 Jesse Owens Award were John Capel, Justin Gatlin, Allen Johnson, Pappas, Dwight Phillips and Tyree Washington. Female nominees for the 2003 Jesse Owens Award were Amy Acuff, Gail Devers, Drossin Kastor, Torri Edwards, Regina Jacobs and Kelli White. Voters for the award included members of the Track and Field Writers of America and other members of the media.

The permanent commemorative Jesse Owens Award is maintained at USATF National Headquarters, and a replica is provided to each of the winners.

Previous winners are Edwin Moses (1981), Carl Lewis (1982 and 1991), Mary Decker (1983), Joan Benoit (1984), Willie Banks (1985), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1986 and 1987), Florence Griffith Joyner (1988), Roger Kingdom (1989), Lynn Jennings (1990), Kevin Young (1992), Gail Devers (1993 and 1996), Michael Johnson (1994, 1995 and 1996), Allen Johnson (1997), Marion Jones (1997, 1998, 2002), Tim Montgomery (2002), John Godina (1998 and 2001), Inger Miller (1999), Maurice Greene (1999), Stacy Dragila (2000 and 2001) and Angelo Taylor (2000).

USATF will host a national media teleconference with Pappas and Drossin Kastor Kastor Monday at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. For information on the teleconference, contact Tom Surber (317-261-0500 x317). For a digital audio replay of that teleconference later in the day, and for more information on the 2003 Jesse Owens Award winners and nominees, visit www.usatf.org.

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