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PROTRACK » GENERAL » 1998 Botany Bay Gift Article

1998 Botany Bay Gift Article

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1 1998 Botany Bay Gift Article on Wed Jan 14, 2015 10:27 pm


With Plenty Of Huff, Greene Blows His Opposition Away

Sydney Morning Herald
Monday March 2, 1998


He accelerated, then celebrated, then fulminated.

As befits a world 100m champion, there is no half speed for Maurice Greene, a man on a mission to save his sport from what it is in danger of becoming - a minority event with novelty value once every four years.

So, yesterday, Greene took his act to a 120m grass track within a park skirting both Botany Bay and Sydney Airport for "the largest and most prestigious athletics carnival in Australia", according to course commentator Terry McAuliffe.

Even by the standards of his event, in which hundredths of a second define success or failure - 23 of them between Greene, first, and Englishman Darren Campbell, second, in the final of the Botany Bay Gift - the 100m has changed quickly in the past 12 months.

A year ago Linford Christie was the star of the show, not just at Botany, but anywhere that Donovan Bailey wasn't running. Since then, he has been caught and passed by Greene, as vibrant and uninhibited as Christie could be aloof and moody.

Christie is now 37, with a torso that looks like an exquisitely detailed anatomical drawing, but also a step or three slower than he was in his drawn-out prime. In this case, not even the kindness of the judges - who lifted him from third place and elimination in his Gift heat to second place and a second chance at a spot in the final via a repechage round - could keep him in touch with the heirs who are now his successors.

Greene and his training partner from Los Angeles, Jon Drummond, the Olympic 200m finalist, go about their business in an entirely different way.

Track and field is a sport with an ebbing profile. They are its salesmen.

It's a joint message. Donovan Bailey is a champion who diminishes the sport with his implied but unmistakeable allegations that they are drug-takers; they are there not just to run fast and win, but to entertain while doing it.

"He's too slow!" Greene yelled, after Drummond finished second in his heat. "Now, lemme show you how it's supposed to be done."

He won his heat in a brisk 11.9 seconds. The first part of his anatomy across the line was his tongue, poked out, as his arms were raised in victory 15m before the finish and with Andrew McManus still in front of him.

"Thass how you do it," he crowed afterwards.

Nearby, Christie, now into his second year of non-retirement, strutted past the finish line with his T-shirt off, his trunk as awesomely buffed as ever. Introduced to the crowd as "the great man from the United Kingdom", he stood in front of Nova Peris-Kneebone for a moment and flexed as she bounced on the balls of her feet.

In the flesh, Peris-Kneebone, the Olympic hockey gold medallist and now aspiring sprinter, is small and slight, with maternal instincts apparent even when racing against the guys. The baggy pink shirt she wore as an outmarker was gathered in a knot in the middle of her back. Soon, she was doing the same for two of her fellow starters, Rod Buchanan and David Baxter.

It was all a distraction from the inevitable. Greene won looking across to see who had chased him home.

"I know the truth," he said later, of Bailey's accusations. "All I'm going to do is continue to run fast and make him mad at me."

© 1998 Sydney Morning Herald

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