Greene says Athens is his city

Fears over terrorism have kept some American athletes away from the Olympics, but Maurice Greene wouldn’t miss Athens for the world. The reigning Olympics 100-meter champion is returning to the scene of former glories in Greece, which he reckons is a home from home. «In Athens, I won my first gold medal at the World Championships,» said Greene, referring to his victory here in 1997. «And two years later, I broke the world record here. So who knows what will happen this year?» The world’s fastest man in Sydney, Greene suffered a protracted slump in the seasons that followed, watching as compatriot Tim Montgomery broke his old world record of 9.79 seconds by 0.01 sec. But Greene has returned to something like his best form this year and is confident of defending his crown, despite suffering recent back-to-back beatings against Jamaica’s Asafa Powell. Greene had his Athens preparations jolted after losing to Powell for the second time in eight days last Friday. But the outspoken 30-year-old showed no sign that the double setback had dented his morale, insisting he will be ready. Greene’s confidence has been most easily visible on his right arm, where he has had GOAT (Greatest of All Time) tattooed. «I have done more than any athlete before me in the 100 meters,» said Greene. «So obviously that person has to be the greatest athlete of all time. If you put everything on a piece of paper, no other athlete can match my stats.» While Greene is seeking to recapture his former Athenian glories at the Olympics, members of the US 4x400m relay team from the Sydney Olympics are fighting to hold on to gold medals gained in Australia four years ago. US sports authorities will try to prevent world track officials from stripping the gold medals of Michael Johnson and other relay team members, the head of the US Olympic Committee said in Athens yesterday. USOC Chief Executive Jim Scherr said it is not yet clear whether USOC or USA Track & Field will file the appeal, which must be turned in to the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport by September 18. The squad could lose its medals due to a doping violation by team member Jerome Young a year before the 2000 Olympics. Young tested positive for the steroid nandrolone in 1999, but was exonerated in July 2000 by a US appeals panel. USATF never gave the International Association of Athletics Federations specifics about the case. Young already has been stripped of his medal, and the IAAF recommended last month that the entire team be penalized because Young should have been ineligible. Young ran in the opening and semifinal rounds of the relay, but not in the final. Johnson ran the anchor leg in the final for the fifth and last Olympic gold medal of his career. Also facing forfeiture of medals are twins Alvin and Calvin Harrison, Antonio Pettigrew and Angelo Taylor. «We definitely want to protect the medals for the rest of the relay team,» Scherr said. «Jerome ran in a preliminary; the contest was not decided in that preliminary race. We think they earned those medals in the final.» If the US team loses its case, Nigeria will be upgraded to gold, Jamaica to silver and the Bahamas to bronze. (AFP, AP)

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