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Maurice Greene Looks To Bounce Back

March 4, 1999

MAEBASHI, Japan (AP) _ Maurice Greene is the world record-holder at 60 meters, yet he still has something to prove in the World Indoor Championships.

Greene is coming off a ``very disappointing″ second place in the USA Championships last weekend, his first defeat of the season.

``I didn’t run like I wanted to,″ Greene said Thursday. ``I know I let down my fans. I have to do something here to regain them. Now, I can make up for it. have a lot of faith in my ability.″

Greene, who set the world record of 6.39 seconds last year at Madrid, Spain, ran 6.40 in the semifinals of the USA Championships at Atlanta, but clocked only 6.49 in the final, losing to Tim Harden’s career-best 6.44.

Greene had an excuse.

He slightly injured his left hamstring in the semifinals, and was cautious in the final, coming out of the blocks last.

``I started easy in the final,″ Greene, the 1997 world outdoor champion at 100 meters, said. ``Something didn’t feel right in my leg. I didn’t know the problem. I didn’t know whether it was a career-threatening injury.

``It turned out to be no big deal. It’s fine now. I expect to have a good race here.

``But there, I was uncomfortable and nervous. I told myself I wasn’t going to rely on my start. If I could get out of the blocks safely, I would be fine. I relied on the middle part of my race. I just wanted to finish healthy. I wasn’t 100 percent certain I was going to win.″

As it turned out, Greene’s start was horrible and that proved costly. Still, he ran fast enough to make the U.S. team and earn a chance for redemption against Harden.

Greene said he feels fit enough to break the record again, but winning will be his major aim when the three-day championships begin Friday.

``I’m always determined to set the world record,″ he said. ``But hopefully I can run technically correct and everything will fall into place.″

Last year, Greene failed in several attempts to break Donovan Bailey’s 100-meter world record of 9.84, and he blamed that on trying too hard.

``I was talking about the world record, but I wasn’t running my race to break it,″ said Greene, whose best in the 100 is 9.86.

This year, he has taken a different attitude _ less talking and faster running.

Greene and Harden are the favorites to return the world indoor 60-meter title to the United States for the first time since Lee McRae won in 1987.

While the sprinters will compete for less than seven seconds, Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie will be running longer than anyone. He is attempting an unprecedented double in the 1,500 and 3,000 meters.

Gebrselassie, the defending champion in the 3,000, will have two advantages _ the 3,000 semifinals have been eliminated, meaning the event will be strictly a final on Friday; Morocco’s Hicham el Guerrouj, the two-time defending champion in the 1,500, is bypassing the championships.

Gebrselassie’s races will be spread out evenly, with the 1,500 semifinals Saturday and the final Sunday.

``I am sure that I am capable of that effort,″ said the world record-holder at 5,000 and 10,000 meters outdoors. ``The problem might be with the 1,500 (final).″

Overall, more than 600 athletes from 123 countries will compete in the championships.

In addition to Gebrselassie, the men’s defending champions are Kevin Little, United States, 200; Sunday Bada, Nigeria, 400; Wilson Kipketer, Denmark, 800; Anier Garcia, Cuba, 60 hurdles; Charles Austin, United States, high jump; Igor Potapovich, Kazakhstan, pole vault; Ivan Pedroso, Cuba, long jump; and Yuri Belonog, Ukraine, shot put.

The women’s winners returning from the 1997 Paris championships are Gail Devers, United States, 60; Jearl Miles-Clark, United States, 400; Maria Mutola, Mozambique, 800; Gabriela Szabo, Romania, 3,000; Stacy Dragila, United States, pole vault; and Vita Pavlysh, Ukraine, shot put.

The entries also include five world record-holders, 12 world indoor record-holders, 15 world outdoor champions from 1997 and seven Olympic gold medalists from 1996.

Seven finals are on Friday’s program _ the men’s triple jump, shot put and 60 hurdles and the women’s pole vault, high jump, 60 hurdles and pentathlon.

The opening ceremony will be attended by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.

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