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Coach sure of Greene resurgence

Busan: Maurice Greene has hit the roughest patch of his glittering career. Not only has he lost the world record to fellow-American Tim Montgomery recently, he has been losing races left, right and centre.

Is there a way back for this sprinter extraordinaire' Yes, certainly, feels his coach John Walton Smith (Junior).

“He still has the hunger for success. It will be a test of his character and mental strength, but I think he has it in him to bounce back,” said Smith after watching his Saudi Arabian ward Hadi Somayli win the men’s 400m hurdles.

It has been a horrible season for his most celebrated pupil, Smith conceded. “Tim (Montgomery) and some of the others have done very well, while Maurice has just gone downhill. After dominating for five years, this easily is his worst year.”

Is there a personal problem bugging Greene' “There could be a problem, but I can’t talk about it. I am just hoping he’ll sort things out in the two-month break he has got. I am itching to go back and start training,” said the coach.

According to Smith, the former 100m world record-holder needs to improve on his fitness. “That’s the biggest area to work on, as well as some minor technical things. He has just turned 28, I think he still has some more time to go.”

Smith is of the opinion that the 100m mark will improve next season. “I don’t know by how much but I have a gut feeling that we’ll have strong performances next year. Maurice badly wants the record back and Tim is determined too.”

Smith has 12 athletes under his wings at the UCLA in the US of which two are from Saudi Arabia. Somayli apart, Hamdan Al Bishi is the other one he coaches. Al Bishi is a 400 specialist and qualified for Wednesday’s finals here with the fastest time of 45.56.

“These two boys are doing well now. The key is to be consistent over a long period of time,” said Smith. He first saw Somayli seven years ago. “He was a raw product then, only about 17 or 18. I liked his style, he reminded me of Kevin Young.

“It has taken him quite a while to break through. Now that he’s up there with the best in Asia, he has to maintain the momentum. Asia surely has the talent, it’s a matter of nurturing it properly,” Smith said before rushing for the team bus which was waiting for him.

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