Athletics News

Maurice Greene: my greatest race

Maurice Greene: my greatest race

American sprinter looks back at the Tsikliteria International in Athens in June 1999 when he stormed to a 9.79 world record for 100m

I was a reigning world champion but I was really just coming into my own. I’d gone to the World Championships in Athens in 1997 and won but I was still learning a lot about my race pattern and I really thought I could work on perfecting everything. That’s all I was really thinking of: perfecting the race. It wasn’t about how to get a whole lot faster.

When I was going to Athens for the meet, I wasn’t even supposed to run the 100m. I was going to go there and run a 200m but then, when I got there and I saw who was in the 100m, I was like: “Man, something is about to happen. I don’t know what it is, but I want to be a part of it.” 

So I called my manager Emanuel Hudson and told him: “I don’t care what you have to do, but you have to get me in this 100m race.” 

The night before he called me and said: “I got you in, but you’re only going to run one race [no preliminary heat] while everybody else is going to run two.” I didn’t care. 

When we got to the track, everybody was warming up. I was sitting down on the track watching the prelim heats, knowing only seven people were going to make it through since they were leaving the lane open in the final for me.

So that let me prepare. I just warmed up nice and easy, taking my time, winding down and just trying to perfect the race. When I ran in Athens to take gold at the World Championships, it was a little rocky as a race – it wasn’t as smooth as it could have been. I told myself: “Let’s make this a lot smoother this time. Because I know hands down what I’m doing is better than I did in the years before.”

The more confident you are, the better. Even when I’m coaching someone now, especially when I’m starting to work with them, and they’re trying to hurry and rush things and asking why they’re not getting it, I tell them the more confidence you get in yourself, the more confidence you’ll have in your race pattern – and the more patience that you can have so you won’t rush things so much.

When you start realising that, and stop caring about what or who’s around you, or anything else, that’s when everything starts flourishing for you. That’s what it was with me. I could be more patient. I wasn’t rushing my movements. I didn’t feel like I had to hurry up to get there. I let the process unfold by itself to run smoothly…

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