SPORTS

US track coach cool about 2004

BOSTON (AFP) – Top athletics coach John Smith, whose squad includes Olympic 100-meter champion Maurice Greene, has no worries about any anti-American hostility at the Athens Games in August. NBA basketball players have voiced concerns about playing in Greece but Smith says he and his runners are used to competing around the world without fear. «I grew up in a rough neighborhood, always had to watch my back,» he said. «I’m not afraid of that. It doesn’t bother me. You just have to watch what you do.» He points out that he competed in the 1972 Munich Games, where 11 Israelis were killed after being taken hostage by Palestinian terrorists, and that he used to run in the old Soviet empire. «We do what we do. We bring peace and harmony, tranquility, that’s what sport is all about. And all of us, this one family we have in athletics and all sports in Olympic Games, hopefully we can share some peace, and we can compete and not fight.» And he added that Greene, Ato Boldon, Jon Drummond and Torri Edwards were more concerned about actually qualifying for the Games. «Everybody is concerned about making the team. You don’t make the team, you don’t have the problem. Once we make the team, we’ll address the security issues.» He welcomed the US team’s decision to set up a pre-Olympic camp in Crete. «I was gonna try not to be in Athens because it’s going to be extremely crowded, extremely stressful… you don’t need that stress, we’ve got enough with the competition.» More than 50,000 members of the security forces and emergency services will be directly involved in protecting the athletes, officials and visitors in Athens at a cost to Greece of more than 650 million euros ($820 million).