Greene Boldon and Bailey in the quarter finalsIt’s fast!
James Dunaway for the IAAF
4 August 2001 – Edmonton -  Maurice Greene and company were just trying out the Mondo track in the first-round heats of the men’s 100 metres at the World Championships. Greene won his in an eased-up 10.33 seconds, and in the fastest of the 11 heats Greene’s stablemate, Ato Boldon cruised in at 10.13. Afterwards Greene said, “I just wanted to get things started. There have been a lot of things in the papers the last  few days,  and I just wanted to get down to business, and give the fans a great show.”

Five hours later, he did. Running into what was probably a slight headwind -- more on that later—Olympic gold medalist Greene won his quarter-final in a stunning  9.88, eased up and beating Boldon, the Olympic silver medalist, by  almost two meters. It was only nine one-hundredths off his own world  record of 9.79 -- and this into a 5.1 metres/second headwind!

Using accepted figures developed by the respected Dr. Jesus Da Pena of Indiana University, that would equate to a 9.54 hundred metres with no wind.

Was it too good  to be true? Of course. Turns out that there was some sort of  malfunction in the wind gauge—what you might call “a bitch of a glitch”  -- and the wind readings in  the 100 quarter-finals were erroneous.

We’ll probably never know what they were. But still, Greene’s quarter-final was the fastest such ever run, and judging from the other wind  readings of the day it was probably wind-legal—although we may never know. But look at the other four quarter finals: they too were won in sub-10-second fashion.

American Tim Montgomery, who still has the year’s fastest time at 9.84, won the  first quarter-final in 9.92, throwing down the gantlet to Greene.  After Greene’s 9.88, the next  two went in 9.97 (by Brits Mark Francis-Lewis and Dwain Chambers, and the last one in 9.95 by the third American, Bernard Williams.

Another way of looking at it is this: the slowest runner to advance to tomorrow’s semifinals was Australian  Matt Shirvington, at 10.14. Aham Okeke of Norway ran 10.15 and did not advance. Whoever heard of 10.15 not making the semis of any meet, including the Worlds and the Olympics?

In  words of one syllable, this track is F-A-S-T.

For further confirmation, just ask American heptathlete Shelia Burrell. She improved her personal best from 23.32 to 22.92 in the 200 metres.

After his quarter-final race, Greene said, “I’ve  got  something special for tomorrow.” Asked if he was talking about a world record, he smiled, “Maybe it will come,  maybe it won’t. (In the quarter-final) I started shutting it off in maybe the last 15 metres. It’s fast.”

And who should know better than the world’s fastest man?


The opinions and content of this article are those of the author and are not attributable to the IAAF, nor do they reflect or represent any official position of the International Association of Athletics Federations.

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