Greg Foster, Olympic medalist, world champion in hurdles, dies at 64

Greg Foster of the USA celebrates his win as he slows down from the finish of the 110 Metres H

Greg Foster, the 1984 Olympic silver medalist and three-time world champion in the 110m hurdles, has died at age 64, according to NBC Sports analyst Ato Boldon and UCLA track and field.

UCLA, where Foster starred from 1977-80, said that he passed away peacefully Sunday after a long battle with amyloidosis.

In 2020, Foster had a heart transplant after being diagnosed with amyloidosis in 2016 and undergoing chemotherapy.

From 1981 through 1991, Foster won six national 110m hurdles titles (including the 1984 Olympic Trials), gold at the first three editions of the world outdoor championships in 1983, 1987 and 1991 and the 1984 Olympic silver medal in Los Angeles.

In August 1981, Foster ran his personal best of 13.03 seconds, finishing runner-up to rival Renaldo Nehemiah in a race where Nehemiah became the first man to break 13 seconds in the 110m hurdles.

Foster, in relation to Nehemiah, was “Gehrig to his sport’s Ruth, Alydar to Affirmed, the Lakers to the Celtics,” the Washington Post wrote.

After Nehemiah left track for the NFL, Foster won the 1983 World title despite hitting the eighth and ninth of 10 hurdles.

He entered the 1984 Los Angeles Games with the four fastest times in the world for the year, according to World Athletics. In the final, Foster flinched in the starting blocks, yet quickly regained the lead from lane one before being beaten at the tape by three hundredths by Roger Kingdom from lane eight.

“For a year and a half before that Olympics, I never lost,” Foster said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “I would have loved to lose all those races and win the Olympics.”

In 1985, Foster’s mom, an aunt, a cousin and his 5-year-old nephew who had been named after him died from a hit-and-run car accident.

Foster won the 1986 U.S. title, then repeated as world champion in 1987.

Foster, once engaged to Florence Griffith Joyner, broke his left arm two and a half weeks before the 1988 Olympic Trials. Wearing a forearm cast, he hit several hurdles and failed to finish his semifinal.

“That is a vision of the Olympic spirit more lasting than any medal,” his coach, Bob Kersee, said then, according to Sports Illustrated.

Foster broke his left arm again in a 1989 pickup basketball game that included Darryl Strawberry, then broke the fifth metatarsal in his right foot in 1990.

Also in 1990, he tested positive for pseueoephredrine, ephredrine and phenylpropanolamine, banned stimulants commonly found in over-the-counter medication, after taking extra-strength aspirin and “some 89-cent vitamins that I bought at a gas station.” He was banned three months.

Again, he came back, winning a third consecutive world title in 1991 (when worlds were held every four years).

He then placed fourth at the 1992 Olympic Trials, missing the three-man team for Barcelona by two hundredths of a second coming back from a groin strain. At 33, he was bidding to become, at the time, the oldest U.S. Olympic male sprinter in 80 years, according to His last recorded race was in 1996.

The Greg Foster Invitational indoor track and field meet was held Saturday at his alma mater of Proviso East High School outside Chicago.

NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

Football takes significant step in Olympic push

Flag Football
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Football took another step toward possible Olympic inclusion with the IOC executive board proposing that the sport’s international federation — the IFAF — be granted full IOC recognition at a meeting in October.

IOC recognition does not equate to eventual Olympic inclusion, but it is a necessary early marker if a sport is to join the Olympics down the line. The IOC gave the IFAF provisional recognition in 2013.

Specific measures are required for IOC recognition, including having an anti-doping policy compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency and having 50 affiliated national federations from at least three continents. The IFAF has 74 national federations over five continents with almost 4.8 million registered athletes, according to the IOC.

The NFL has helped lead the push for flag football to be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games. Flag football had medal events for men and women at last year’s World Games, a multi-sport competition including Olympic and non-Olympic sports, in Birmingham, Alabama.

Football is one of nine sports that have been reported to be in the running to be proposed by LA 2028 to the IOC to be added for the 2028 Games only. LA 2028 has not announced which, if any sports, it plans to propose.

Under rules instituted before the Tokyo Games, Olympic hosts have successfully proposed to the IOC adding sports solely for their edition of the Games.

For Tokyo, baseball-softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were added. For Paris, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were approved again, and breaking will make its Olympic debut. Those sports were added four years out from the Games.

For 2028, the other sports reportedly in the running for proposal are baseball and softball, breaking, cricket, karate, kickboxing, lacrosse, motorsports and squash.

All of the other eight sports reportedly in the running for 2028 proposal already have a federation with full IOC recognition (if one counts the international motorcycle racing federation for motorsports).

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Helen Maroulis stars in wrestling documentary, with help from Chris Pratt

Helen Maroulis, Chris Pratt

One of the remarkable recent Olympic comeback stories is the subject of a film that will be shown nationwide in theaters for one day only on Thursday.

“Helen | Believe” is a documentary about Helen Maroulis, the first U.S. Olympic women’s wrestling champion. It is produced by Religion of Sports, the venture founded by Gotham Chopra, Michael Strahan and Tom Brady. Showing details are here.

After taking gold at the 2016 Rio Games, Maroulis briefly retired in 2019 during a two-year stretch in which she dealt with concussions and post-traumatic stress disorder. The film focuses on that period and her successful bid to return and qualify for the Tokyo Games, where she took bronze.

In a poignant moment in the film, Maroulis described her “rock bottom” — being hospitalized for suicidal ideations.

In an interview, Maroulis said she was first approached about the project in 2018, the same year she had her first life-changing concussion that January. A wrestling partner’s mother was connected to director Dylan Mulick.

Maroulis agreed to the film in part to help spread mental health awareness in sports. Later, she cried while watching the 2020 HBO film, “The Weight of Gold,” on the mental health challenges that other Olympians faced, because it resonated with her so much.

“When you’re going through something, it sometimes gives you an anchor of hope to know that someone’s been through it before, and they’ve overcome it,” she said.

Maroulis’ comeback story hit a crossroads at the Olympic trials in April 2021, where the winner of a best-of-three finals series in each weight class made Team USA.

Maroulis won the opening match against Jenna Burkert, but then lost the second match. Statistically, a wrestler who loses the second match in a best-of-three series usually loses the third. But Maroulis pinned Burkert just 22 seconds into the rubber match to clinch the Olympic spot.

Shen then revealed that she tore an MCL two weeks earlier.

“They told me I would have to be in a brace for six weeks,” she said then. “I said, ‘I don’t have that. I have two and a half.’”

Maroulis said she later asked the director what would have happened if she didn’t make the team for Tokyo. She was told the film still have been done.

“He had mentioned this isn’t about a sports story or sports comeback story,” Maroulis said. “This is about a human story. And we’re using wrestling as the vehicle to tell this story of overcoming and healing and rediscovering oneself.”

Maroulis said she was told that, during filming, the project was pitched to the production company of actor Chris Pratt, who wrestled in high school in Washington. Pratt signed on as a producer.

“Wrestling has made an impact on his life, and so he wants to support these kinds of stories,” said Maroulis, who appeared at last month’s Santa Barbara Film Festival with Pratt.

Pratt said he knew about Maroulis before learning about the film, which he said “needed a little help to get it over the finish line,” according to a public relations company promoting the film.

The film also highlights the rest of the six-woman U.S. Olympic wrestling team in Tokyo. Four of the six won a medal, including Tamyra Mensah-Stock‘s gold.

“I was excited to be part of, not just (Maroulis’) incredible story, but also helping to further advance wrestling and, in particular, female wrestling,” Pratt said, according to responses provided by the PR company from submitted questions. “To me, the most compelling part of Helen’s story is the example of what life looks like after a person wins a gold medal. The inevitable comedown, the trauma around her injuries, the PTSD, the drive to continue that is what makes her who she is.”

Maroulis, who now trains in Arizona, hopes to qualify for this year’s world championships and next year’s Olympics.

“I try to treat every Games as my last,” she said. “Now I’m leaning toward being done [after 2024], but never say never.”

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