EXCLUSIVE Interview (Part I) with MAURICE GREENE, former 100m world record holder & Team Nigeria’s new Relay Coordinator!

23 Jun

MAURICE GREENE, Former World Record Holder, Olympic GOLD Medallist and 3-time World Champion in the 100 metres, speaks EXCLUSIVELY to MAKING OF CHAMPIONS about his rivalries with Nigerian athletes during his illustrious career, and his recent appointment as Team Nigeria’s Relay Coordinator!

You were the 100m World Record Holder with a time of 9.79s between 1999 and 2005. What were some of the greatest rivalries you had against Nigerian Athletes in that time?

At that time, (Francis) Obikwelu. Though I don’t know if he had switched countries yet, but he was probably my biggest rival. 

He was still representing Nigeria at the 1999 World Championships in Seville, when you won the 200 metre title and he was third. Can you tell us a little about that?

Well, it was a great rivalry. He kind of startled me in the semi-final because he ran that race so easily. He ran 19.84 seconds, and I was like ‘uh-oh’, I am really going to have to do something in the final, so I kind of changed up my game plan a little bit. I knew I had to change up and put more pressure on him in the race.

You won the final with a time of 19.90s, so if he had run that fast in the final, you would have lost it?

Well yeah that’s true, but each race is different. It all depends on who’s in the race and what happens during the race, that’s all.

If we recall correctly, Obikwelu pipped you to the Silver medal in the 100 metres at the Athens 2004 Olympics in a time of 9.86s – by then he was running for Portugal – while you took the Bronze in 9.87s?

Yeah – that was my fault though, because in the semi-final I slowed down too much at the end and he leaned and took second, so that pushed me to an outside lane for the final. I like being in the middle of the track, because when somebody moves I can move to go faster. So that messed me up – it put me in lane 7, so I only had Obadele Thompson from Barbados in Lane 8, and Asafa Powell in Lane 6, but everything happened in lanes 3, 4 and 5. So that messed me up, but you know I say it’s my fault, so it happens. You go through race strategies and race plans and everything else, so you’ve got to live with what happens. 

Another famous race for Nigeria at that Olympics was the 4×100 metre relay, and we distinctly remember Deji Aliu receiving the baton on the anchor leg for Nigeria at the same time you did for Team USA, and you eventually just missed out on the GOLD to Team GB by one hundredths of a second, with Nigeria taking the Bronze?

Yeah it was tough, because at those Olympics I lost 2 GOLD medals by three hundredths of a second – miserable day. I mean, you can’t even blink that fast. But you know what? It happens…

Let’s talk about your current appointment at the Relay Coordinator for Team Nigeria. What are your hopes and expectations for the role? What do you think you can bring to Nigerian Athletics? 

I don’t hope anything. Nigeria has a lot of great athletes here, and we just have to bring out that talent. They brought me in to mentor a lot of them and just help put everything together so that they can start producing the medals like they should. They haven’t been doing it in the past few years, and things need to change, so it’s my job to come in and try to change things, and try to make sure that the world sees the exact talent that Nigeria really has. So that’s what I plan on doing.

Do you have any of the athletes under your direct tutelage as their coach?

Yeah, I have a couple of them. I don’t work with them every day, but we have training camps, and I speak to a lot of them through email and on the phone, so it’s all of the above.

Let’s do a quick recap of the World Relays in the Bahamas – the girls had a great performance in the 4x400m relay, with the third fastest time ever by a Nigerian quartet in the event. What can you say about our performance at the World Relays?

Yeah, I think that was just a start of what we are beginning. It’s going to get better from there. That is just the start of it. At the World Relays, I had just been with the team for a couple of months, and I think the women did a very good job there. But I expect more out of them, and they know that I expect more from them. I get them to believe that they should expect more also, so good things – no, great things – are yet to come! 

Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of this exclusive interview with Maurice Greene, during his first ever trip to Nigeria for the National Trials in Calabar, where he weighs in on the recent trend of American athletes switching allegiances to Nigeria! 

Maurice Greene, Team Nigeria's Relay Coordinator, at the UJ Esuene Stadium, Calabar, during the 2014 Nigerian Athletics Championships

Maurice Greene, Team Nigeria’s Relay Coordinator, at the UJ Esuene Stadium, Calabar, during the 2014 Nigerian Athletics Championships

One Response to “EXCLUSIVE Interview (Part I) with MAURICE GREENE, former 100m world record holder & Team Nigeria’s new Relay Coordinator!”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. EXCLUSIVE Interview (Part II) with MAURICE GREENE, Team Nigeria’s Relay Coach, on the new craze for recruiting American Athletes! | Making of Champions - June 24, 2014

    […] we published Part I of our EXCLUSIVE interview with MAURICE GREENE, Former World Record Holder, Olympic GOLD Medallist and 3-time World Champion in the 100 metres. […]

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