Greene, Johnson Prepare for 200m
The anticipated duel between 200m world record-holder Michael Johnson and world champion Maurice Greene should come to pass at 5:48 pm (00:48 GMT), when the 200m final closes the 10-day trials at Sacramento, California.
Ostensibly what's at stake is place on the US team for the Sydney Olympics, but the verbal sparring that started last year as 100m world record-holder Greene began to work his way up the 200m ranks proves that it is an out-and-out battle for sprint supremacy.
"I want Michael Johnson, and I'm going to get him," declared Greene, as the seismic activity in the area of Sacramento increased this week.
Greene, who qualified for the Sydney Games with a victory in the 100m on Saturday, has loudly proclaimed his plan to mark his 26th birthday on Sunday with a coveted victory over Johnson in the 200m final.
Ever since Johnson missed last year's national championships through injury, and skipped the 200m at the world finals to focus on the 400m, Greene has accused Johnson of ducking him.
The boisterous Kansan, who failed to qualify for the Atlanta Games but has since captured three world titles and the 100m world record of 9.79sec, says a head-to-head race will prove he has what it takes to beat Johnson, even though is career best in the 200m is 19.86, well outside Johnson's world record of 19.32sec.
Johnson claims that his only aim on Sunday is to win, and make the Olympic team. He denies that beating Greene has any special significance.
"I can honestly say that since Carl Lewis left this sport, there's not an athlete that I get excited about running against," Johnson said. "I get excited about achieving my own goals."
"Once I get to a final, there's seven other people there. I don't care who they are, I don't know who they are. They have no faces or names to me. They're just seven people standing in my way."
"I do dislike a lot of things that Maurice has said about me," Johnson said. "I dislike the attempts he has made to elevate himself by using my name.
"There doesn't need to be all this: 'the only reason Michael broke the world record is because the track was fast.' That's ridiculous."
Equally ridiculous, Johnson said, was the idea that Sunday's race will be the end of the saga. That, he said, would come only in Sydney.
"I don't think winning this race is going to silence a critic, Maurice Greene or anyone else," Johnson said. "Because it's not the Olympic Games. The goal this year is the Olympic Games. That's what Maurice is going to say, once he's beaten" -- (AFP)
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