Maurice Greenes powerful legs still keep him in the spotlight but his ballroom dancing shoes,not sprinters spikes,pay the bills these days. The former Olympic and world champion has been travelling by bus across America for the past two months entertaining audiences as part of the touring company of the popular television show Dancing With The Stars.
This is a lot fun-er, Greene said. When I was competing,that was stressful. This is going out and having fun.
The 34-year-old American retired from athletics before the 2008 season,but he was not ready to put away his showmanship. An agent arranged for the sprinter to team up with professional dancer Cheryl Burke on the television show and after a fifth-place finish they joined the 37-city tour. Ballroom dancing is completely different than dancing in the clubs. I knew nothing about that.
He missed the competition of athletics,he said,but my heart was not in it any more,and the sport is in a lot of trouble. …I decided it was time for me to move on.
Three times the world 100 metres champion,winner of Olympic gold in Sydney in 2000 and bronze in Athens in 2004 and the world-record holder at 9.79 seconds for more than three years beginning in 1999,Greene would not single out one event as his greatest achievement. Youre at places in life that no one can ever touch, he said of his lengthy career in which he ran the 100 in under 10 seconds a record 52 times. He still holds the world-best mark for the indoor 60 metres. I will always be known as once the worlds fastest man, he said.
Always a showman,Greene said the sport today needed more athletes to entertain crowds and not just with their races. Thats why I was the way I was,said the outgoing Greene. Some people might not have liked it but a lot of people laughed at it and I was a joy to watch. A lot of that joy had gone from the sport now, he said,because of positive doping tests.
The dance show tour,which ended on Sunday in Philadelphia,gave him a chance to find new joy in a different type of competition.