In world-class sprints, Greenes the go-getter
- Kerry Eggers
- Portland Tribune - Sports
The lead male role in 'Speed' was miscast. Nothing against Keanu Reeves, but Maurice Greene should have been the guy.
Greene oozes excessive motion. 'Anything that deals with speed, I love,' he says. 'Anything.'
What, you expect something different from the fastest man on the planet? Hobbies: quilting, bingo, '40s movies?
Greene's Mercedes SL 500 travels under the speed limit Ñ until he hits the accelerator. 'That probably isn't a good thing to advertise,' he says, carefully.
So when you ask Greene what kind of 100-meter race he expects to run in Saturday's Adidas Oregon Track Classic at Mt. Hood Community College, you pretty much know the answer: 'Very fast.'
Under 10 seconds?
'It better be.'
Greene isn't likely to approach the 9.79 world record he set in 1999, a record that now belongs to Tim Montgomery (9.78), but something faster than the 2003 world best of 10.00 by Frank Fredericks of Nambia isn't out of the question. This is Greene's season debut in the 100, and he wouldn't mind establishing right now that he means business.
The dominant sprinter of this era still has goals to meet. The 2000 Olympic champion wants to win gold medals in the 100 and 200 at this year's World Championships. He wants more Olympic gold, too.
'I want to be known as the greatest 100-meter sprinter ever,' Greene says. 'To do that, I have to accomplish a lot more things, starting with the World Championships.'
Greene, who turns 29 in July, thinks he can still get better.
'I haven't run as fast as I can,' he says. 'I know I can run faster than I already have.'
Greene enjoys more than running on the track.
'I love competition,' he says. 'I will compete in anything, no matter what it is. I guess you could say I am a competition junkie. I like to do everything, and I love speed.'
The kids matter
Greene will concede that, like most great athletes, he possesses a large ego.
'Egos can get bruised very easily when you don't do as well as you are supposed to,' he says. 'A lot of things come along with that, but to be the best, you have to believe in yourself. If you believe in yourself, you have to have an ego.'
But Greene takes it only so far.
'I am very confident,' he says, 'but I am not cocky.'
Watch him after Saturday's race. Greene will sign autographs and offer a smile. He will talk with children.
'When I was growing up (in Kansas City, Kan.), I didn't get to come into contact with a lot of big-time athletes,' he says. 'We had a lot of track athletes who came in to compete, but a lot of them were so standoffish. I want to be different than that. I try to meet as many kids as I can. I don't want them just to see me on the track and leave it at that.
'I am blessed to have this ability, but I want people to know I am a regular person, too, just like they are.'
Greene's sprint resume is full: world record-holder, three-time 100-meter gold medalist at the World Championships (1997, 1999, 2001), double gold medalist at the 2000 Olympics (100, 400 relay). He also is past winner of USA Track & Field's Humanitarian of the Year Award, in part for his work with the Maurice Greene Finish the Race Youth Foundation.