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September 20, 2000
I am going to win, declares GreeneJohn Mehaffey Maurice Greene walked the walk, talked the talk and promised on Wednesday a spectacular weekend at the Sydney Olympics.
American sprinters are not usually a self-effacing and reticent group. But even by their extrovert standards, Greene was something else at a news conference near Darling Harbour two days before he takes to the track in the first round of the Olympic 100 metres.
The world's fastest man strutted on to the stage accompanied by team mates from coach John Smith's elite HSI group. He successfully exhorted a packed hall of journalists to applaud, fielded the majority of the questions and remained the focus of attention for 40 frenetic minutes.
"I am going to win," Greene said. "That's what I am going to do. I came here to get the gold medal in the 100 metres and that's what I am going to do."
Reports emanating from the U.S. training camps this week said Greene had clocked a hand-timed 9.78 seconds in practice, one-hundredth of a second faster than his world record set in Athens last year.
WORLD RECORD POSSIBLE
Greene dismissed practice times as irrelevant but did not discount the possibility of a world record in Saturday's final.
"It's on the cards," he said. "Anything is possible. Do I think I am capable of it? Of course."
His training partner Ato Boldon, the 1997 world 200 metres champion, was more forthright.
"The shape we are in now, we are ready to run faster than we have ever done before," he said.
Boldon starts favourite for the 200 metres in Sydney after both Greene, world champion over both the 100 and 200, and 1996 Atlanta Olympic 200 champion Michael Johnson failed to finish in the final of the U.S. championships.
The Trinidadian dismissed suggestions that the race had been devalued.
"History will not record who is not there," Boldon said. "History will record who is the Olympic champion and hopefully that will be me."
The questions returned inevitably to Greene. Was he nervous?
"Do I get nervous?," Greene replied. "I don't show it but I get nervous. This is the biggest stage I can be on and I like to say the bigger the stage, the better I perform."
What did he think about the scientist quoted in an Australian newspaper as saying world sprint records were probably as low as they would get?
"You can't believe everything you read in a newspaper," Greene replied. "I love to prove people wrong."
Boldon interjected: "Was he the same scientist who said people can't run a mile in under four minutes? He was wrong."
The news conference came to a surreal end when an Australian asked the assembled athletes how their skills would compare to a sheep shearer.
For once Greene was speechless. Eventually Smith intervened. "I once had an Afro haircut," he said.
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