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September 23, 2000
Greene set for 100m dash to bankRalph Gowling
Maurice Greene will probably need just under 10 seconds to dash into U.S. corporate hearts -- and loads of money.
The American track ace is favourite to win the showcase Olympic 100 metres gold medal on Saturday and be hailed by billions of television viewers around the world as the fastest man on earth.
He is already the world champion and world record holder for the 100 metres, but the marketing men regard the Olympics as the big seller.
They will also be watching how he performs off the track -- a little arrogant swaggering or a bit of smiling charm would go down well.
"The real X-factor is charisma," Bob Williams of Chicago-based Burns Sports was quoted as saying by the Australian newspaper on Saturday.
"Does he have that charisma that people and advertisers look for? If he does, he can make himself a lot more money."
The Australian said it was estimated that Greene earned about $3 million last year and could command about $100,000 to turn up at European track meetings.
But if he wins Olympic gold and strikes the right chord with the public, it could propel him into another league.
"Winning the gold medal is mandatory from a marketing perspective. There is no commercial value in winning silver or bronze," said Jim Millman, chief executive of U.S.-based sport marketing group Millsport.
Greene did nothing in Friday's opening two rounds to suggest he is in anything but top form.
The American looked relaxed in winning his two races on Friday in 10.31 and 10.10 and predicted "great things" for the final.
"It's going to be a great night and a great competition," he said.
The man most likely to push him is Trinidad's Ato Boldon, who criticised himself for going too fast when winning his heat in 10.04 and slowed to 10.11 in winning his second round.
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