In the fall of
1975, while a junior at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Edwin Moses pored over a
pre-Olympic track brochure. A promising quarter-miler with, as he puts it,
"a minor in hurdles," Moses was looking for the right direction to take
as he planned his athletic future.
110-meter hurdles I saw names like Willie Davenport, Tom Hill, Larry Shipp,
Charles Foster—proven world-class men," he says in his deep, even voice.
"It was the same thing in the 400 meters—Herman Frazier, Maxie Parks, Fred
Newhouse. It was all very logical. If I was going to make the U.S. Olympic
team, I had to move into a different race, something like the intermediate
Logic has always
had a major role in Moses' life, both on and off the track. A self-described
"analytic, practical" person, he earned a degree in physics at
Morehouse. After graduation in 1978 he took his present job as an associate
engineer with General Dynamics in Pomona, Calif., primarily because the climate
offered a "more reasonable" training environment. Moses believes in
analyzing motion down to its essence, and he believes in order. During races he
wears a wristwatch accurate to hundredths of a second so he knows "what
time it is."
On March 27,
1976, after just six orderly weeks of practice, Moses won the 400-meter
intermediate hurdles at the Florida Relays in 50.1. The time was good enough to
qualify him for the Olympic Trials. Four weeks later he turned a 49.8 at the
Penn Relays. Two weeks after that, at the Tom Black Classic in Knoxville,
Tenn., he was clocked in 48.9, establishing himself as one of the fastest
400-meter hurdlers in the world.
Then, on July 25,
at the Montreal Olympics, he sprinted away from the field, winning a gold medal
and beating U.S. teammate and silver medalist Mike Shine by nearly 10 meters.
His time of 47.64 was .18 of a second under John Akii-Bua's four-year-old world
Just four months
after running his second 400-hurdles race—he had once reluctantly entered the
intermediates in 1975 and did "53 something"—Moses abruptly had become
the best in the world. It is difficult to explain such ascendancy
"I know I
made it all look too easy," he says now, giving one of his frequent, darkly
ironic chuckles. "And that has been a large part of the problem." The
There has been a
vague dissatisfaction in Moses' life ever since Montreal. To put it simply, he
feels that he deserves more recognition for his achievements. "You
know," he says, "I was the only Olympic individual track gold medalist
for the U.S. in 1976, and I'm one of this country's two active world-record
holders. I should have a little recognition, shouldn't I?"
observers, it would appear he has got some: Track & Field News' U.S.
Athlete of the Year in 1977 and 1978; cited for Performance of the Year in
1977, when he lowered his world record to 47.45 at the AAU championships;
runner-up in the 1977 Sullivan Award voting. But having been 1977 World Cup
champion, possessing nine of the world's 11 best 400-hurdles times and being
the world's top-ranked intermediate hurdler for three consecutive years, Moses
feels there should be more. For instance, he wouldn't have minded winning that
Sullivan Award, an honor the recipient, swimmer John Naber, has said Moses
probably deserved. And he wouldn't mind having more in-depth articles written
about him in magazines and newspapers. And he could stand a little radio and TV
Of course, such
egocentric concerns have not endeared the generally affable Moses to the press.
Adjectives like angry, sullen and difficult frequently pop up in front of his
name. "I guess you could say I'm on the writers' endangered species
list," he says, with that chuckle again. Track & Field News Features
Editor Jon Hendershott went so far as to write a piece called "An Open
Letter to Edwin Moses" in the January 1979 issue. "Dear Ed," the
article began. "Naturally, you want recognition and appreciation for all
the hours of hard, lonely training you had to put in so you could go from being
nobody to being Olympic champ and world-record holder.... Who wouldn't want
some rewards for such efforts? But remember, Ed, that you may never be a true
hero in this country. Track just isn't a big sport. This is a nation of