SI Vault
Time Bandits
Frank Deford
August 06, 2001
Maurice Greene is the latest holder of the grand and curious title World's Fastest Human, bestowed on men who have stolen fractions of seconds from the 100-meter record
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August 06, 2001

Time Bandits

Maurice Greene is the latest holder of the grand and curious title World's Fastest Human, bestowed on men who have stolen fractions of seconds from the 100-meter record

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Still, how can we avoid being fascinated by the sheer fastest stuff, the damage? "Speed is uniquely American," Masback says. "We have a reverence for speed. The trouble is that track is so objective that it may be hard to sustain someone's interest after he's broken a record. Everything else seems a comedown."

Greene is lucky in one important respect. He is saved from being too self-absorbed because he is so involved with his team. HSI is even more sophisticated than the Santa Monica Track Club, which gave Lewis and Burrell the same sort of support and camaraderie. Hudson cannot even sign a new client unless a majority of the members votes for the nominee. HSI is as much club as team.

Greene frequently pauses in his workouts to help lesser HSI athletes. Andrew Miller, the hefty team trainer, watches Greene work with Christine Arron, a world-class sprinter, on her start. "Mo's really a giving person," Miller says in genuine admiration.

The World's Fastest Human is a nice guy, just like many of the common people whom God made slower. At meets, he dashes about the infield, cheering on his teammates. He tutors young Bernard Williams, teaching Williams how to beat him someday, when it is time to pass the torch. At Athens, after meeting with the press following his own race, Greene hurried back near the finish line, where, with Boldon, he sat and waited to greet Arron and Torri Edwards after they had competed in the women's 100—and console them if they lost.

Away from the track, Greene says, "I just chill out," enjoying the same kind of activities that most millionaires his age engage in. He plays video games, drives a Mercedes with a license plate that reads MO GOLD and has the obligatory diamond earrings and tattoos we have come to expect from our young athletic stars. He does watch his diet, however, shunning the junk food he was inclined to eat before he fell under Smith's aegis, and he has shown a creative bent in designing his own posters and a Mo Greene calendar, which can be found on his website (

He has a one-year-old daughter, Ryan Alexandria, from a past relationship. He visits Ryan often in Pasadena, across town from his house in a newer upper-middle-class suburb of Los Angeles, where the roads wind and the houses have Spanish-tile roofs. Inside, his house is dominated by a PlayStation, which his brother and a cousin are enjoying at the moment as Greene shows off his trophies and his website. With major artillery action on the PlayStation, it seems rather like Mo is living in a bowling alley, but he is unfazed.

"If people ask who is the greatest sprinter ever," he calls out, over the din, "I want to show them a race that is so beautiful that people will remember it forever."

John Smith says, "I want Mo to run into the horizon, if I may be metaphorical."

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine...and change—a little less change. But only if you dream correctly.

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