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|August 28, 2000||
US coach happy with Greene, JohnsonMitch Phillips in the Gold Coast
U.S. track and field head coach John Chaplin says he is happy Maurice Greene and Michael Johnson will not be running in the 200 metres at the Sydney Olympics and insists that the two rivals are good friends.
Chaplin is in Brisbane, along with a team of 20 support staff and, at this stage, just 12 athletes, ahead of next month's games. The bulk of the squad will arrive over the week, including world record holders Greene and Johnson.
Greene, the world 100 metres record holder and hot favourite for the title here, and Johnson, who won an unprecedented 200m/400m double at Atlanta, were involved in a war of words ahead of the U.S. trials earlier this month.
Greene qualified for the 100 metres and Johnson the 400 but both men pulled up injured in the 200 and under the U.S. system where the first three finishers qualify, both missed out.
Chaplin, however, did not consider it a problem. "It's good for me," he said in an interview on Channel Seven's Sportsworld programme on Sunday.
"It means I've got two more very fast guys in that event and that I have the six fastest men over the distance in my squad."
Chaplin played down the row between the two stars, who both lay claim to the title of "world's fastest man".
"I think it was more about agents and outside hype really," he said.
"They are both excellent human beings and both good friends."
"When I saw them pull up I wasn't worried," he said. "I was a sprinter myself and I know the difference between a little 'ow' and a big 'ow'."
"They're both in great shape."
Chaplin said that, unsurprisingly, the two men would not be sharing a room once the team moves to the Olympic Village in Sydney.
"The American system is that we don't insist athletes stay in the village. Some of our people are millionaires and they will make their own arrangements. All we ask is that we see the whites of their eyes once a day."
Chaplin will have ultimate responsibility in the selection of the two U.S. relay squads and is particularly anxious to regain the prestigious 4x100 title lost to Canada four years ago.
"I was a referee then so it was not my business but this year it is my business," he said.
"We've still got the men available who ran the fastest time ever and I can select anyone who competed in the U.S. trials. So if we don't drop the stick I think I'll survive all this."
Although Chaplin is only in charge of the men's team he was taking a close interest in Marion Jones, who is seeking five track and field golds.
"What she's trying to do is a very, very hard thing," said Chaplin. "Can she do it? Yes. Will she need some luck? Yes. Whatever happens I give her a lot of credit for trying."
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