Athletics: Beware young America

Pat Butcher says there is new life in the old super power of sprinting; World's greatest sprint nursery puts two more kids on their blocks as Britain's best makes his own mark

Maurice Greene has already fulfilled the first part of the American dream. He went west to seek fame and fortune, and won the United States sprint title. But taking that dream on the road again, to conquer the rest of the world, is going to prove infinitely more difficult.

The once-automatic assumption that the US 100 metres champion would also take the Olympic or world title is a long time dead. And with the likes of Donovan Bailey, Frankie Fredericks and Ato Boldon as principal grave- diggers, you would not bet the mortgage that Greene will do a resurrection job in Athens next week. But it will not be for lack of trying.

The decision to uproot from Kansas last year and seek out the sprint star-maker John Smith in Los Angeles already shows considerable initiative, but Greene has always been a young man in a hurry. His first coach, Al Hobson, recalls taking him to national championships when he was eight years old. "I started coaching Maurice when he was beating all the kids in the neighbourhood, then I coached him in high school, and when he started college," he said.

As a schoolboy in Kansas City, Greene won three consecutive state sprint doubles, ending up with bests of 10.43sec and 21.00sec for the 100m and 200m in 1993, at the age of 18. Hamstring problems, the perennial bugbear of the sprinter, hit the following year, which he sat out while deciding also to quit college in Missouri. His re-entry to competition at the Texas Relays in 1995 had the impact of a shooting star hitting the stratosphere.

He knocked the king's crown sideways, beating Carl Lewis in a superlative, albeit wind-assisted time of 9.88sec. He showed that was no freak performance a month later when he was runner up to Mike Marsh in the US Championships to qualify for that year's world championships in Gothenburg. But he went on the skids in Sweden, being eliminated in the second round, and seeing his relay colleagues make a baton error after he had successfully negotiated the first leg in the opening heat.

Despite bringing his legal best down to 10.08sec last year, he did not even make the final of the US Olympic Trials. That prompted him to join Smith's LA group, which includes such luminaries as Marie-Jose Perec and Boldon. "It's been so helpful, we're all sprinters, and we all help each other out. Ato and I have stayed up until one o'clock some mornings, watching videos to try to correct problems in my race. It all helped me get ready for meets like the nationals."

So ready, in fact, that Greene blazed to 9.90sec, the third fastest legal time in US sprint history, when he won the national title in Indianapolis last month. His name goes on the roster behind two all-time greats, Leroy Burrell (9.85sec) and Lewis (9.86sec). But Greene went even better in Lausanne two weeks later, when he beat Olympic gold and silver medallists, Bailey and Fredericks, with another 9.90sec, this time during a deluge.

Even so, wisely, he is not prepared to make any prognostications about beating Bailey and Fredericks in Athens, let alone his training partner, Boldon. But Greene certainly feels a lot more ready for the big time. "I feel I'm ready for that sort of competition now. I can handle it a lot better."

Much was made of the breakthrough in Indianapolis of Greene and the new US men's No 2, Tim Montgomery, seeing in a new era as Lewis retired. But it might be an even younger US sprinter who makes the most impact in Athens, the 21-year-old Marion Jones, who has been a longer time coming than Greene or Montgomery - since 1992.

While the spectators' hearts and the media's notebooks and microphones in the US trials in New Orleans that year were stretching out to the decathlon world record-holder, Dan O'Brien, when he missed his opening height in the pole vault, and failed to qualify for the Barcelona Olympics, there was a barely-noticed, though perhaps equally significant, event going on across the stadium where the 16-year-old Jones was giving a glimpse of a talent that the track world would be denied for five years.

Jones finished fifth in the 100m and fourth in the 200m, with world-class times of 11.14sec and 22.58sec. But an aptitude for basketball and a propensity for injury combined to keep her off the track. Now a student in North Carolina, Jones said: "I thought that I could compete at this level in two sports; looking back I think it's impossible. There's so much concentration and focus that goes into it."

Jones was point-guard for North Carolina for three years during which they won the US Collegiate basketball championship. But then she decided to go back to track, to try to qualify for the World Student Games in late 1995. Last summer, though, at the Atlanta Olympics she broke her foot long-jumping, and did the same thing three months later. During her recuperation, she stayed involved through her boyfriend, international shot putter, C J Hunter, but only started training in earnest in April. "Even though I wasn't competing, C J was, so it was keeping me involved and keeping the excitement there."

She wasn't the only one excited in Indianapolis where, in the absence of the world and Olympic champion Gail Devers, Jones won the 100m in 10.92sec, then the fastest of the year, and beat Jackie Joyner-Kersee in the long jump. Later in Europe, she swapped victories with Devers, who will have to employ all her championship experience to stay ahead of the youngster after being given a wild card entry for Athens.

Like Greene, Jones is coy about her chances next week, saying simply: "I haven't been around like I've wanted in this sport. But now I'm back, I'm healthy and I want to run fast." With foreign competition thinner in the women's ranks, Jones's training diary could prove to be a throw- back to the old days - "took exams, won the US title, became world champ."

How the World Championships will unfold

Saturday 2 August

08.00 Hammer (M) Qualifying Round Group A 08.10 400m (W) 1st round 08.20 Triple Jump (W) Qualifying Round 2 Groups 08.50 Shot Put (M) Qualifying Round 2 Groups 09.00 1500m (W) 1st round 09.25 Hammer (M) Qualifying Round Group B 09.30 100m (W) 1st round 10.15 100m (M) 1st round 18.00 400m H (M) 1st round 18.40 100m (W) 2nd round 19.05 20km Walk (M) Final (Start) 19.10 Shot Put (M) Final 19.20 100m (M) 2nd round 19.40 400m (W) 2nd round 20.25 20km Walk (M) Final (Arrival) 20.50 10,000m (W) 1st round

Sunday 3 August

08.00 100m H (W) Heptathlon 08.10 Javelin (M) Qualifying Round Group A 08.20 Long Jump (M) Qualifying Round 2 Groups 08.40 3000m S/C (M) 1st round 09.00 High Jump (W) Heptathlon 09.25 400m (M) 1st round 09.40 Javelin (M) Qualifying Round Group B 17.30 Hammer (M) Final 18.00 400m (M) 2nd round 18.25 100m (W) Semi-Final 18.30 Shot Put (W) Heptathlon 18.45 100m (M) Semi-Final 19.05 400m (W) Semi-Final 19.20 1500m (M) 1st round 20.45 1500m (W) Semi-Final 21.15 200m (W) Heptathlon 21.35 100m (W) Final 21.50 100m (M) Final

22.10 400m H (M) Semi-Final 22.30 10,000m (M) 1st round

Monday 4 August

08.00 10k Walk (W) 1st round 08.10 Long Jump (W) Heptathlon 10.00 800m (M) 1st round 17.40 Javelin (W) Heptathlon Group A 18.00 High Jump (M) Qualifying Round 2 Groups 19.00 3000m S/C (M) Semi-Final 19.10 Javelin (W) Heptathlon Group B 19.30 Triple Jump (W) Final 19.35 400m (M) Semi-Final 20.05 400m (W) Final 20.35 1500m (M) Semi-Final 21.10 400m H (M) Final 21.30 800m (W) Heptathlon

Tuesday 5 August

08.00 100m H (M) Decathlon 08.10 Discus (W) Qualifying Round Group A 08.30 400m H (W) 1st round 09.00 Long Jump (M) Decathlon 09.15 110m H (M) 1st round 09.40 Discus (W) Qualifying Round Group B 10.30 Shot Put (M) Decathlon 17.45 High Jump (M) Decathlon 18.00 800m (M) 2nd round 18.30 Shot Put (W) Qualifying Round 2 Groups 18.40 Javelin (M) Final 18.40 110m H (M) 2nd round 19.00 Long Jump (M) Final 19.40 1500m (W) Final 19.55 10,000m (W) Final 20.40 400m (M) Decathlon 21.05 400m (M) Final

Wednesday 6 August

08.00 110m H (M) Decathlon 08.15 Triple Jump (M) Qualifying Round 2 Groups 08.25 5000m (W) 1st round 09.00 Discus (M) Decathlon Group A 09.25 800m (W) 1st round 10.15 200m (M) 1st round 10.30 Discus (M) Decathlon Group B 11.10 200m (W) 1st round 12.00 Pole Vault (M) Decathlon 17.50 Javelin (M) Decathlon Group A 18.00 110m H (M) Semi-Final 18.10 High Jump (M) Final 18.20 200m (W) 2nd round 18.45 200m (M) 2nd round 19.10 800m (M) Semi-Final 09.20 Javelin (M) Decathlon Group B 19.30 3000m S/C (M) Final 19.50 400m H (W) Semi-Final 20.15 1500m (M) Final 20.35 10,000m (M) Final 21.15 1500m (M) Decathlon

Thursday 7 August

07.00 50km Walk (M) Final (Start) 08.10 5000m (M) 1st round 08.20 Long Jump (W) Qualifying Round 2 Groups 08.30 Javelin (W) Qualifying Round Group A 10.00 Javelin (W) Qualifying Round Group B 10.25 50km Walk (M) Final (Arrival) 18.00 10k Walk (W) Final 18.10 Discus (W) Final 18.30 Shot Put (W) Final 19.00 200m (W) Semi-Final 19.25 200m (M) Semi-Final 19.50 800m (W) Semi-Final 20.15 5000m (W) Semi-Final 21.15 110m H (M) Final

Friday 8 August

17.30 Pole Vault (M) Qualifying Round 2 Groups 17.45 Discus (M) Qualifying Round Group A 18.00 High Jump (W) Qualifying Round 2 Groups 18.45 Triple Jump (M) Final 19.05 200m (W) Final 19.20 200m (M) Final 19.30 Discus (M) Qualifying Round Group B 19.40 800m (M) Final 20.00 400m H (W) Final 20.20 4 x 100m (W) Semi-Final 20.45 5000m (M) Semi-Final

Saturday 9 August

08.05 Marathon (W) Final (Start) 10.25 Marathon (W) Final (Arrival) 18.10 800m (W) Final 18.25 Long Jump (W) Final 18.30 4 x 100m (M) 1st round 18.55 100m H (W) 1st round 19.10 Javelin (W) Final 19.15 4 x 400m (M) Semi-Final 19.45 4 x 400m (W) Semi-Final 20.15 5000m (W) Final 20.40 4 x 100m (M) Semi-Final 21.05 4 x 100m (W) Final

Sunday 10 August

08.05 Marathon (M) Final (Start) 10.15 Marathon (M) Final (Arrival) 17.30 Pole Vault (M) Final 18.00 High Jump (W) Final 18.30 Discus (M) Final 19.00 100m H (W) Semi-Final 19.25 5000m (M) Final 19.55 4 x 100m (M) Final 20.15 4 x 400m (W) Final 20.35 100m H (W) Final 20.50 4 x 400m (M) Final

The British team

Men

100m

Ian Mackie Darren Campbell Marlon Devonish

200m

Doug Walker Owusu Dako Julian Golding

400m

Iwan Thomas March Richardson Jamie Baulch

800m

Andy Hart Mark Sesay Paul Walker

1500m

John Mayock Kevin McKay Matthew Yates

5000m

Rob Denmark Keith Cullen Adrian Passey

110m hurdles

Tony Jarrett Colin Jackson Andy Tulloch

400m hurdles

Chris Rawlinson Gary Jennings

3000m steeplechase

Rob Hough

Marathon

Richard Nerurkar Dave Buzza Dale Rixon

High Jump

Brendan Reilly Dalton Grant Steve Smith

Pole Vault

Nick Buckfield

Triple Jump

Francis Agyepong Jonathan Edwards

Shot Put

Shaun Pickering Mark Proctor

Discus

Bob Weir Glen Smith

Hammer

David Smith

Javelin

Steve Backley Mick Hill Mick Nieland

4 x 100m relay

Ian Mackie, Marlon Devonish, Doug Walker, Julian Golding, Darren Braithwaite, Dwain Chambers

4 x 400m relay

Iwan Thomas, Mark Richardson, Jamie Baulch, Roger Black, Sean Baldock, Mark Hylton

Women

100m

Simmone Jacobs Marcia Richardson

200m

Katherine Merry Simmone Jacobs

400m

Donna Fraser Allison Curbishley

800m

Kelly Holmes

1500m

Kelly Holmes Jo Pavey

5000m

Paula Radcliffe

Marathon

Sally Goldsmith Caroline Hunter-Rowe Angharad Mair Danielle Sanderson

100m hurdles

Diane Allahgreen Angie Thorp

400m hurdles

Sally Gunnell

High jump

Debbi Marti

Long jump

Jo Wise

Triple Jump

Ashia Hansen Michelle Griffith

Shot Put

Judy Oakes

Discus

Shelley Drew

Javelin

Tessa Sanderson Shelly Holroyd

Heptathlon

Denise Lewis

4 x 400m relay

Donna Fraser, Allison Curbushley, Michelle Pierre, Michelle Thomas, Lorraine Hanson

News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Bruce, left, with Cream bandmates Ginger Rogers, centre, and Eric Clapton in 1967
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker