ATHLETICS Panorama: Four-time World hurdles champ Greg Foster needs a heart transplant

Forget the four World Championships golds in the high hurdles, and the rivalries with Renaldo Nehemiah and Roger Kingdom. Once again, Greg Foster is fighting for his life.

Foster, 61, beat back the rare AL Amyloidosis disease twice, in 2016 and 2018, but has now been told that he needs a heart transplant. A heart transplant?!?

This is almost unthinkable to those who saw him run at UCLA and then on the international circuit for another 15 years. Powerfully built at 6-3, with long, muscular legs, Foster set an American Record of 13.22 in winning the 1978 NCAA title in Eugene and then improved to 13.03 in 1981. He won the IAAF Worlds in 1983-87-91 when it was held only once every four years, an Olympic silver medal in 1984 in Los Angeles and the 1991 World Indoors. He retired in 1995.

After beating back the Amyloidosis at the end of last summer, he felt weak in November and was told that a heart transplant was needed. There were a lot more tests to be taken, but the diagnosis was confirmed in October.

His son Bradey wrote on their GoFundMe page (link):

“Going forward I’m not sure what the future holds for my dad, but for now we are not going to give up.? Every day is a struggle for him, either physically, psychologically or emotionally but he has come this far and cleared some damn high hurdles through this race he’s not quitting.? My Dad is a fighter but has gone through a heck of a lot for someone that has done so much for so many. My brother’s and I just want to make this part of Dad’s life one of comfort and happiness. The road will be a costly one, but our plan is to fight to the end. …

“This journey has been and will continue to be one of great financial, emotional and physical challenges to dad. Although it’s been one hell of a fight and a high ass hurdle to clear, if you know my DAD he’s not giving up. The financial hardship that this is going to cause my dad will be more than he can handle right now. Unfortunately, he is still paying medical costs from his stem cell transplant three years ago.”

The GoFundMe page was posted on 6 November and has a $350,000 goal. Who knows when the transplant will come through, but Foster continues his fight for life. More of the details are here.

(Special thanks to Brian Russell, one of Foster’s teammates at UCLA, for forwarding the link.)

The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) name has now been retired and the new “World Athletics” name is now being used. One of the first activities under the new name was a letter from Chief Executive Jon Ridgeon to the excellent Global Throwing letter which protested the demotion of the discus (and triple jump) in the 2020 Diamond League program.

Ridgeon’s letter explains that the broadcasters of the Diamond League meets wanted 90-minute – rather than two-hour – shows and that the events themselves depend on the support of television rights sales and sponsorships. He claimed that the new sponsorship from the Chinese media giant, Wanda, was made possible

He added:

“Knowing that some disciplines would not be included within the 90 minute international broadcast window and shortened final, World Athletics has invested time and considerable funds to create a new strong one day Meeting series – The World Athletics Continental Tour. The Continental Tour will offer those athletes affected by next year’s changes to the the Diamond League, opportunities for high level competition, significant prize money, top flight world ranking points and visibility to fans, both live and through international broadcast. This is in addition to signature disciplines being held within the Diamond League, either in or outside of the international broadcast window.”

He also noted some details of the Continental Tour:

“The [new] Wanda partnership has also enabled us at World Athletics to invest more significantly in the World Athletics Continental Tour, which will be a series of between 10 and 12 Meetings covering disciplines that will not be in the Diamond League, as well as some that are. The details of the 2020 Continental Tour will be shared with the World Athletics Council and the Athletes Forum in Monaco in a couple of weeks time.”

He further underlined that the events line-up for 2021 will be reviewed at the end of 2020, and that he will meet with Shaun Pickering from the group in December.

That’s hardly going to satisfy the throwers, but it is good that Ridgeon took their letter seriously enough to respond quickly.

In the meantime, The Athletics Association, founded by World Triple Jump Champion Christian Taylor tweeted that the response has been excellent:

In addition to changing its name, World Athletics also revamped its Web site – lots of images, but harder to find information – and named its finalists:

Men: Joshua Cheptegei (KEN), Sam Kendricks (USA), Noah Lyles (USA), Eliud Kipchoge (KEN), Karsten Warholm (NOR).

Women: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (JAM), Sifan Hassan (NED), Brigid Kosgei (KEN), Dalilah Muhammad (USA), Yulimar Rojas (VEN).

The voting is already over; the winners will be announced on 23 November.