Ex-Vol Pappas wins world title

Former Vol Tom Pappas, a current volunteer assistant coach on head coach Bill Webb's UT track staff, won the 9th IAAF World Indoor Heptathlon Championship Sunday in Birmingham, England with a lifetime-best 6,361 score.

''To have two world champions (Pappas and Justin Gatlin in the 60m dash) and two NCAA champions (Jabari Greer, 60m hurdles and Gary Kikaya, 400m dash) in the same weekend is extremely exciting and unprecedented,'' Webb said. ''I don't think any collegiate program in the country can match that. Obviously, Tom is of great assistance to me and Tennessee's current decathlon group.''

It is believed to be the first time in the history of Tennessee's track and field program that two former Vols won world titles at the same meet.

Pappas added nearly 250 points to his previous lifetime-best effort to top a field of the world's best including favorite Lev Lobodin of Russia, who entered the meet ranked No. 1 in the world. Lobodin scored 6,297 points to take runner-up honors. Additionally, Pappas topped Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic, who stands as the defending champion, the only man to break the 9,000-point mark in the decathlon and holds the world record in that event, and Tomas Dvorak of the Czech Republic, a previous world record holder in the decathlon.

''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. 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.''

Pappas won three of seven events in the two-day heptathlon, taking top honors in the 60m dash (6.89), high jump (7-1 1/2) and 60m hurdles (7.80). In addition to also posting lifetime-best times in the 60m dash and 60m hurdles, Pappas also posted a PR in the shot put (53-3). In his other events, Pappas leaped 24-9 3/4 in the long jump, cleared 16-0 3/4 in the pole vault and ran 2:51.65 in the 1,000m run.

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