Fastest men on earth fall flat

The men's 200 metres wasalways going to be the closest contest at the US Olympic trials. Maurice Greene, 26, had long taunted the world record holder Michael Johnson as a quitter; Johnson, 32, had hit back with some harsh words of his own. "I will always tune in to watch two guys who dislike each other," Johnson had said ahead of the race.

The men's 200 metres wasalways going to be the closest contest at the US Olympic trials. Maurice Greene, 26, had long taunted the world record holder Michael Johnson as a quitter; Johnson, 32, had hit back with some harsh words of his own. "I will always tune in to watch two guys who dislike each other," Johnson had said ahead of the race.

In the end it was an extraordinary race, but one that both men will quickly want to forget. After a year of bitter and often vocal rivalry, the world's top two sprinters failed to make it to the home straight as both dropped out in agony as the tension and the heat took their toll. "The whole world wanted to see a great show," said a disappointed Greene afterwards. "It's a sad situation that me and Michael didn't finish the race."

Certainly the American public, not normally known for its enthusiasm for attending track events, had been alerted to the possibility of a spectacular finale to the trials. A crowd of almost 25,000, presumably as inspired by the trash-talking build-up from both parties as the sunny weather, turned out to witness the most anticipated showdown in track and field in three years.

Johnson's stunning 19.32sec 200m at the Atlanta Olympics had made him the man to beat. But Greene's camp said that the Texan was unwilling to be tested - Johnson was supposed to run against Greene in the 200m in the US Pro Championships last year, but pulled out because of the death of his grandmother, and the two were set to race again at the USA Championships with Johnson withdrawing for a second time, this time with a quadriceps injury. Johnson's fastest time since Atlanta is 19.91sec, while Greene's best is 19.90sec. The two have faced each other twice, and each has one victory. A classic race seemed in prospect.

Johnson had already had problems with cramp in his right leg, but still took the field in the next lane from his rival. About 50 metres into the race, Johnson pulled up gripping his left hamstring, after decelerating he fell to the track; Greene powered on but after 100 metres he too limped out of the race and left the track with an ice pack strapped to the back of his leg.

"It's one of the most painful cramps I've had," said Johnson afterwards. "I don't believe the injury is terrible. We'll evaluate it in the next few days. Hopefully this isn't too serious so I can get back and go to Europe."

"I felt a strain," Greene said. "I stopped before I tore something. I don't think it had anything to do with the heat or with the rivalry. I was just trying to do something my body wasn't ready to do."

Both had their tickets to Sydney booked already, Greene having qualified for the 100m and the 4x100m relay, and Johnson for the 400m and the 4x400m relay.

With Greene and Johnson out, the 200m race went to John Capel in 19.85sec, the second fastest in the world this year. Capel was the US collegiate champion last year; he had beaten both Johnson and Greene in the semi-final less than two hours earlier. Floyd Heard was second in 19.88sec and Coby Miller was third in 19.96sec.

"I don't regret anything I said," Greene added. "The whole world wanted to see a great show. It put a lot of attention on the sport. I hope it created fans for track and field. If they want a race after the Olympics, I'm all for it."

Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor