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So Says

Edwin Moses

June 29, 1986|LEROY WOODSON JR. | LeRoy Woodson Jr. is a Long Beach writer and photographer.

Edwin Moses, 30, twice an Olympic gold medalist in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles,has one of the greatest winning streaks in sports history. Last year, he earned publicity of another kind when he was arrested on--then acquitted of--a charge of soliciting an undercover policewoman posing as a prostitute. He will risk his uninterrupted string of 109 victories in the hurdles at the Goodwill Games, which begin Saturday in Moscow. Q: What is the thrill of running hurdles? A: Competition. When I started, I had no idea that I would ever become world class. No way that I thought I could make a career and a living, and own everything I have, because of track and field. I just did it for a hobby, really, just to get away from the academic world. I was the most unlikely guy, and I became Olympic champion in essentially four months, from the time I first ran the 400-meter hurdles to the 1976 Olympic Games. But I just trained with guys who were dedicated (at Morehouse College in Atlanta), and we didn't have much of a program, but we worked out twice a day. When '76 came around, we had three guys with the potential to make it, and I was one of them. Q: How have you adjusted to the prominence it brought you? A: Well, it took me a long time to get the kind of positive publicity that I deserve--in fact, from 1976 until around 1983. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that the Olympic Games were going to be in the United States. I was world record holder, Olympic champion. Track and field was becoming a more recognizable sport here in America. Q: You were at the pinnacle--a gold medal in the Olympics, Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. Then came your arrest, trial and, in February, 1985, your acquittal. Looking back, how do you assess those events? A: I certainly don't get up in the morning and think about it. Everything I do is looking toward the future. My main problem right now is getting back in competition. The solution to that is training, so that's all I really care about. Everything else is secondary. There are so many people who go through so much more--losing family members, real tragedies. Even though I felt it was a tragedy for me at the time, now I realize that it was just one of those things that could happen to anybody. I feel fortunate that I'm here and still able to compete and to do what I love to do and keep a positive outlook on life. Because that's what people want to see from an individual like me. Had it (the arrest) happened five, six years before, it probably wouldn't have been a major deal. You know, things were going great professionally at the time. I had a lot of stress in my life, because I was trying to juggle a competition career and be involved in the politics of the sport and the business of it as well. Q: How did you react to the first news reports about your arrest?

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