Matt Butler: Monthly special shines a new light on the Greene corn

View From The Sofa: Greene Light, Eurosport

Maurice Greene, the last great American sprinter, was not known ever to have suffered from a lack of self-belief. The GOAT ("Greatest of All Time") tattoo on his shoulder was evidence enough.

Even in his twilight years as a runner, dogged by niggling injuries, he remained certain he would win every time he toed the start line. At Crystal Palace in a pre-Olympic warm-up meet before Athens 2004, he found himself up against the then world record-holder, Asafa Powell in the 100 metres. Greene (right) came up short against the Jamaican, posting 9.97sec to Powell's 9.91.

Afterwards, many expected him to be disappointed, angry even. He was the defending Olympic 100m champion, after all – and as a self-confessed ego-driven athlete, he had been beaten by the new guy on the block. But Greene sauntered through the mixed zone, with his trademark grin and exaggerated gesticulations, correcting every interviewer that it wasn't "if" but "when" he walked off with the gold medal for the 100m in Greece in two weeks' time.

He didn't win gold in Athens – that medal went to a pre-drugs ban Justin Gatlin. But Greene did walk away with the bronze medal, along with a silver in the relay.

His showmanship was plain to see after that race, with his theatrical hug of Gatlin on the track. So it was no surprise that he has since gone on to carve a light entertainment niche for himself after his retirement from the track in 2008.

He has done Dancing With The Stars and Blind Date in the US – you get the feeling that if he was a Brit he'd be nailed on to do I'm a Celebrity – and dabbled in punditry for London 2012.

But this year, in a series of monthly specials leading up to the athletics World Championships, he has taken on the persona of a documentarian, in the cheesily named Greene Light. Albeit one who wears a natty baggy suit and busts some dance moves in the opening credits, before singing his own theme tune and talking about himself ("Mo-reese Greene") in the third person.

This month Greene picked the Grenadian 400m prospect Kirani James to focus on. Well, he picked him to stand in the rain while Greene spouted faux-modest statements of the kind only the most cocky can get away with. It was beyond lightweight. Five minutes of discussion about his studies in Alabama were followed with a one-question interview with the athlete's coach Harvey Glance ("how good can he be?"), then a training session in which Greene tackled what Glance called "a man's race". Shots of the sprinter flopping over the track as if knackered, while giggling at his wackiness, predictably followed. And then Greene's verdict: "You can't go as fast in the 400m as you can in the 100m. James is going places." No kidding.

Far more insightful was a slot featuring the Kenyan distance runner Vivian Cheruiyot, the reigning 5,000m and 10,000m world champion. Her softly spoken demeanour belied a steely determination and ruthlessness. It was a very different way of expressing self-belief, with no need for tattoo-flashing, strutting or snappy winks to camera. Tellingly, Greene was nowhere to be seen.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea