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An Interview With Maurice Greene from April 5, 2007

Source: sports.yahoo.com

4 May 2007

By Josh Peter

This interview was originally posted on April 16, 2007 at sports.yahoo.com

As some of the country's top runners sprinted around the track in the 4x100-meter relay, a man in the wooden bleachers shouted, "You wouldn't be running that fast if I was out there."

The boast was as distinctive as the voice. It belonged to none other than Maurice Greene, the one-time World's Fastest Man who in 2006 disappeared from track and field almost as quickly as he used to run the 100 meters. Although Greene sat among the spectators Sunday during the Mt. SAC Relays, he said he plans to run May 5 at a Grand Prix event in Japan and has his eye on the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

"Just be on the lookout," he said. "More great things to come."

But in February at the Millrose Games in New York, Greene stumbled and fell during the 60 meters. The fall, coming off his long hiatus, raised doubts – doubts about whether at age 32 he can recapture the form he showed at the 2000 Olympics, when he won the gold medal in the 100 meters and was a member of the U.S. team that won gold in the 4x100 relay. Doubts about his ability to regain the form he showed at the 2004 Olympics, when Greene settled for the bronze in the 100 and won silver as part of the 4x100 relay team.

But here on Sunday, the mouth that played a close second to the legs which made Greene an international celebrity was in peak form. Between posing for pictures and waving to fans, he submitted to a Q&A with Yahoo! Sports.

Question: Where have you gone, Maurice Greene?

Answer: (laughs) I haven't gone anywhere. I just took some time off. I'm just getting back into it, training now and getting ready.

Q: To those who thought you might have slipped away for good, tell us what your plan was as far as taking time off and getting geared up again.

A: I was going through a lot of things. I think I just needed the time off. You know, get a little bit away from the sport because there were a lot of things going on in the sport that I didn't necessarily agree with. But you've just got to let that stuff go and get back to what you love doing. That's the pure competition of the sport and just having fun with it.

Q: What was it that you wanted to distance yourself from or that you didn't like?

A: I don't really want to talk about that stuff. It had to do with how all the drug stuff was happening. It was really hurting our sport. It made our sport look very bad.

Q: There are two ways to look at it. The system was putting the athletes at an unfair advantage because there wasn't ample recourse for them to defend themselves, or there were others saying, 'Hey, it's time to root out the cheats and let's do it.' Did you have mixed feelings with how it was handled?

A: I understand some people make bad choices. But some other situations where they even admitted, "We see you're not at fault, but you're at fault." They (track and field officials) run it how they want to, basically, so we've just got to come out here and just do what we can.

Q: No sprinter has captured America's imagination since you. But there was Justin Gatlin, and there was Tim Montgomery, and both of them are suspended now for positive drug tests. What do you think about the state of American sprinting?

A: We still have a lot of great sprinters, a lot of good ones that are still up and coming also and they're still learning. So we haven't gone anywhere, and I'm going to make it exciting again this year.

Q: Where are you based on the performance you had in Sydney and in Athens? How far are you from the Maurice Greene at his peak?

A: As long as I'm healthy, I'm still that great kind of competitor. I will still go out there and compete the same as I did then. But you've got to understand, you've got to be healthy, and that's the most important thing I'm trying to do is just stay healthy right now.

Q: In terms of your health, are there any injuries you've been battling?

A: No, I'm healthy right now. I'm good. I just had some surgery so I have to take some time off right now. I had my wisdom teeth pulled out. I had to take some time off, so I'm good, I'm getting ready.

Q: When did you run last?

A: I ran in New York, but I fell because of the dip. I was going to run an indoor race. After that it's been over a year.

Q: What have you been doing to keep busy?

A: Huh, a lot of things. A lot of people ask for my time. Just doing a lot of things. … Actually, right now I'm putting together an AAU track team. I want to build it to have a track team in a lot of cities. One in California, one in, say, West Virginia, but it'd be the same track team. I'm trying to figure out how to do that.

Q: Your coach, John Smith, says when you step on the track in Beijing, you're as capable as anyone of winning the gold. How much thought have you given to Beijing, and what do you think your prospects are with Asafa Powell (the current world record holder) out there and a lot of other good young sprinters?

A: I don't worry about nobody else. I only worry about myself. When I step on the track in Beijing, I'm going out there to win, point blank and period. I'm not going out there for anything else. I don't run for second. If I step out there I'm going for the gold. I'm not going for anything else.

Q: John pointed out that your worst performance on the world stage was in Athens (at the 2004 Olympics), and you came away with the bronze. What does that say, good and bad?

A: I'll tell you what happened in the Olympics. I made a crucial mistake, and that cost me a gold medal. But it's just something I have to live with. That just tells you that every day has to be right. You can't allow yourself to make any mistakes or you will lose.

Q: Has it gnawed at you at all?

A: Of course it has. I lost two gold medals in the Olympics in the amount of three hundredths of a second. We lost the relay by one hundredth of a second, and I lost the 100 meters by two hundredths of a second. That's, ahhhhh. But it's something you've got to live with. That's the little burning fire that I still have in myself, to go out there and redeem (myself) and get it back.

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