Olympians Pappas, O'Brien Quotes Regarding USA Multi-Event Championships

June 13, 2002

BERKELEY - Following are selected quotes from Tom Pappas and Dan O'Brien, two U.S. Olympians who are competing at next week's USA Multi-Event Championships June 18-20 at Cal's Edwards Stadium. Pappas and O'Brien both addressed the media via phone at a preview lunch at Blakes on campus on Wednesday.

Tom Pappas, 2000 U.S. Olympian, Fifth-Place in the Decathlon

General comments
'Coming off a personal best score a few weeks ago, basically I'm looking to maybe get a little better and let my body recover. These two weeks, I've basically been letting my body recover and have been trying to toughen up in the technical events. There's not really a whole lot in terms of how training is going to go that I'm going to get a lot faster or anything like that.'

On whether he'll have enough time to recover from Gotzis
'I think so. When I got back, the first three or four days my legs were a little bit sluggish. I still wasn't with it. My legs feel pretty fresh now. I have had coaches say that within a week to a week and a half, you're fully recovered. I should be ready to go.'

On what getting a PR at Gotzis does for his confidence
'It definitely doesn't hurt. Normally, early in the year I compete in a lot of open events. Going into Gotzis, I hadn't competed hardly at all the whole year. I was a little iffy on my training and where I was at. Now I have a good idea. I know what I need to work on for nationals. If I can have the same kind of meet I had at Gotzis, I'll be fine.'

On what it would mean to beat Dan O'Brien
'Since I was little, I followed Dan O'Brien's progress and watched him in the Olympic Games and all of the World Championships. That's going to be a big excitement for me, getting to compete against him. Whether or not I beat him, that's another story. For everyone, it gives us an extra motivation. I'm not going to go out there and focus on beating Dan. I'm going to focus on what I need to do. If that's enough to win, then great.'

On what Dan O'Brien is capable of at nationals next week
'I don't think you can ever rule out Dan. He's proved himself every time he's competed in a decathlon. Everyone is aware of the marks he's put up this year. As far as what he's done this year, his marks are quite a bit off from when he was in his prime. From that standpoint, I think my chances are pretty good. I'm excited to compete against him. I hope he's healthy and able to finish it.'

On whether or not he sees himself as the favorite
'If I stay healthy and I do what I think I'm capable of scoring, barring any injuries or mishaps on any events, I would think going into it, I would be considered the favorite.'

On whether he sees himself still competing in the decathlon at age 35 like O'Brien is
'No, probably not. I think in 2008, I'll be 31 or 32. I can still put up good marks at that age. But, 35 is pushing it, as the decathlon puts so much wear and tear on your body. I don't think anyone has ever been as old as Dan and been really competitive. I don't see that happening for me.'

Dan O'Brien, 1996 U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist in the Decathlon

On how training is going
'It's going pretty well. We haven't had great weather this spring. I think my marks in some of the meets have been a little misleading seeing as I had some good fouls in the long jump at Modesto. I haven't competed a whole lot. But, this is the first year back for me. This is step one in a five or six step process to take me to 2004 and be completely ready there. My training is going well. I'm doing a lot of my training by myself now because school is over. It's been a little tough not having a great training partner. Going into the U.S. meet, I'm looking to get my feet wet again and get out there and deal with a little bit of the stress and pressure. I'm happy that it's a non-significant year so no matter what happens at the U.S. meet, I'm there to get some work in, not to have to qualify for a team or to beat anybody by a large amount.'

On whether he expects to win
'I think so. That's the goal. I go to compete against the other guys and myself and the scoring tables. I've never looked at anybody and thought, 'I have to beat this person to win.' I've always thought that I need to get out there and do what I can do and that's to perform in each of the different events.'

On his health
'My health is pretty good. My feet still bother me from time to time. I'll have a big high jump session, and I'll come out the next day, and my feet will be a little bit sore. My health is good. I feel as strong as ever, just not real sharp at this point. I'll never forget what Kim Bass said after taking a year off. It took her a whole season to get back into it. I think that might be the case with me, as well. It might take me a whole season to get my sharpness back. That means real snappy over the hurdles and real crisp in the long jump and high jump.'

On what he's capable of scoring if all goes well next week
'I don't think I can answer that questions. I didn't have a clue what I could score at the Goodwill Games, and I went out there and had a chance at the world record. I'd be surprised if I didn't score 8500. Then again, if I scored more than that, it wouldn't surprise me either. It really all depends on the day and how it lends itself to some really good events and not to some other events. I've had some difficulties high jumping there (at Edwards Stadium) in the past. I ran an easy low 14 in the high hurdles without any competition. Some events will be set up nicely. Other events...it's not mondo surface, so we may not get super fast times.'

On whether a bad result next week will discourage him from continuing
'Not at all. The goal is 2004 regardless of what happens at this meet. This meet is really a beginning for me. I did a half a dozen meets this year. It was just a start. I need to get out there and get one under my belt. In no way did I try to peak for this meet or prepare for this meet as if it were a major championship. I just have been training hard all year long. I just need to get out there and get one under my belt. I'm going to do the best that I can to this point. I'll be in a lot better shape in four or five weeks and would be able to score higher then. But, I can't keep training without competing. I have to get out there and compete.'

On whether it's exciting not knowing what he's capable of in this meet
'It's exciting, a touch stressful as well. I'd like to say that I got 8800 points at a meet right now. But, I can't do that. I'm not quite there yet. I think a lot of other people have higher expectations for me than I do for myself.'

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