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OLYMPICS

Greene's Season of Slow Torture

September 08, 2002|HELENE ELLIOTT

Maurice Greene's sixth-place finish in the 100 meters at Friday's Golden League finale is sure to fuel speculation that the world-record holder is past his prime.

Greene slowed near the end and was clocked in 10.20 seconds in the ISTAF meet at Berlin. Winner Dwain Chambers finished in 10.02. It was the fifth time Chambers, the European champion, had beaten Greene this season. Last week, Greene was sixth, at 10.11 seconds, in the Memorial Van Damme meet at Brussels, won by U.S. compatriot Tim Montgomery in 9.91.

"Greene has run slower this season, but rarely has he looked so ordinary," the London Telegraph said of Greene's Brussels race. "He will continue to talk up his chances of retaining his world title in Paris next August, but after five years of domination, it looks as if his time at the top is coming to an end."

Steve Cram, the former world-record holder in the mile and 1,500 and now a BBC commentator, agreed.

"Greene is just going through the motions right now," he wrote on the BBC's Web site. "Greene might not actually get back to where he was last year or the year before."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday September 10, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 4 inches; 154 words Type of Material: Correction
Olympics--Former discus thrower Olga Fikotova Connolly's maiden name was misspelled in a Sports story Sunday.

Greene said the deaths of his grandmother and uncle and a dispute with his shoe company have disrupted his training and frame of mind.

"I've been No. 1 in the world for quite a few years, and that puts a lot of strain on your body," he told the BBC. "I wanted this to be a recovery year, so I can continue to be the world No. 1 for the next couple of years. I had no world championships or anything, so I really wasn't worried about it.

"I'm going to go out of this sport at the top. I'm not going to finish eighth, ninth, fifth. I'm going to go out winning, running fast times."

After his race Friday, Greene withdrew from the Madrid World Cup meet Sept. 20-21.

"Next year, you will see a totally different person," he said.

Marion Jones of the U.S. (100 meters), Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco (1,500), Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic (400-meter hurdles) and Ana Guevara of Mexico (400) won their races Friday. Each went seven for seven in Golden League meets and earned a share of the jackpot, 110 pounds of gold bars.

Freestyle Follow-Up

After pulling the U.S. wrestling team out of last week's World Freestyle Championships in Tehran because of the threat of terrorism, USA Wrestling officials are hoping Kurt Angle can help provide a consolation prize of sorts.

They're working to arrange a series of matches pitting U.S. wrestlers against the new world champions in their respective weight classes at the Kurt Angle Classic in New Orleans Nov. 8-10. Angle is the 1996 Olympic heavyweight gold medalist turned WWE headliner.

"The idea was always to bring the top foreign athletes in," USA Wrestling spokesman Gary Abbott said. "But there will be increased attempts to make sure we get the winners from Tehran because the Americans never had a chance to wrestle there. It might give an indication of how the Americans would have done if they'd had the opportunity to participate.

"There's money involved too, so it's a way for our athletes to get at least something back."

Abbott said the U.S. freestyle team, which finished fifth in the world last year, had been expected to contend for the team title and challenge for individual medals. He said he didn't know whether any other teams had withdrawn. U.S. intelligence sources said the U.S. team had been threatened, not the tournament as a whole. About 40 countries were expected to participate.

Grappling With Issues

The last few weeks have been busy ones for USA Wrestling.

The organization recently launched its first resident training program for women at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., welcoming about a dozen women.

That number is expected to be near 20 eventually.

In addition, U.S. and international officials are determining how to fight a recommendation by the International Olympic Committee task force that "one of the wrestling disciplines" be dropped from the Games.

That has been interpreted to mean Greco-Roman wrestling, although the commission wasn't specific.

As Abbott pointed out, Greco-Roman wrestler Rulon Gardner of the U.S. was among the most prominent athletes at the Sydney Games because of his upset of Russia's Alexander Karelin. Gardner, incidentally, resumed wrestling last week for the first time since losing a toe to frostbite in February.

He might return to competition at the Kurt Angle Classic or the Sunkist event next month in Phoenix.

"Greco-Roman wrestling is very popular in Europe and Asia," Abbott said. "I have a feeling the IOC is going to hear not only from the U.S. but a lot of countries. The wrestling community is very concerned and upset about the possible elimination of one style."

Death Unexplained

An autopsy on figure skater William Sears, who was found dead in his Manhattan bedroom Tuesday, was inconclusive, said Terri Levine, president of the Skating Club of New York.

Levine said Sears' mother, Margarita, had told her Friday the mystery worsens the family's pain.

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