No limits to what can be achieved, says Greene

No limits to what can be achieved, says Greene

Former 100M champion dons a different role

Maurice Greene

Greene, the former world record holder in the 100 metres, is here as brand ambassador for the event, a different role from what he was used to doing not too long ago. He may not scorch the track any longer but Greene has effortlessly slipped into his new role, and is enjoying every bit of it.

“It’s always hard to stop something that you love,” said Greene, who retired from track and field in February last year. “It’s hard to walk away but it got to a point where mentally I was very tired. Physically, I had some nagging injuries too and I wasn’t able to do what I wanted to do. That is when I decided to stop,” said the 35-year-old, the Olympic champion in the 100M in Sydney 2000.

Greene has spent his post-retirement days largely away from the track, focusing on his sport and entertainment company, and also appearing in television reality shows -- he was fifth in Dancing With the Stars programme -- but spreading the message of sport is what he loves most.

“I go around these days, talk about the goodness and purity of sport; hopefully, inspire a couple of people to take up serious sport. It wasn’t a hard decision to make to come here. I have been to a lot of places but I had not been to India. I like to experience new things. One thing I do not want to do is, make assumptions without experiencing.”

A trip to the home of Karnataka athletics -- the Sree Kanteerava Stadium -- and a short interactive session with the State athletes formed part of that experience for the American, who once swept everything before him in the sprinting world.

Greene’s world record of 9.79 seconds -- set in 1999 -- is no longer in the record books. Usain Bolt is the name on everyone’s lips now, having clocked a sensational 9.74 seconds at the Olympic Games in Beijing. Greene described Bolt as a ‘phenomenal athlete,’ but he has no doubts as to who will be the winner if the two raced against each other in their prime. “I will win,” the answer came back even before the question could end.

India do not even have a toe-hold in the world of athletics and Greene said he had no instant reasons or solutions to offer for a turnaround. “I don’t know what coaching techniques are being used here. Maybe, if some coaches came over here to help out, maybe that will work,” the three-time world champion said, and he had a piece of advice for the Indians who pursue a career in athletics. “Track and field is a sport where whatever you put into it, you will get the same out of it. In this sport, the only thing that can stop you is yourself. You have to be mentally strong too. If you believe in it, you can achieve it.”

Bolt might have set the new standard in sprints but Greene felt his timings could be improved further. “When I was competing, I never put limits on myself. As time goes on, man will progress. Technology will improve, there will be better tracks, better shoes -- all these will help one clock faster times. I believe there are no limits to what one can achieve.”