KANSAS CITY, Kan. — God is good and has always been so to Maurice Greene.
At one point, the Schlagle High School alumnus was the world’s fastest human. He attributes his success to his work ethic.
And few Olympians were as colorful as Greene, but his track and field career almost didn’t happen.
KSHB 41 News caught up with Greene's former high school Coach Al Hobson to explain.
“Maurice was going to go to junior college to play football, and the night before I tried to convince him to stay with track and field,” Hobson said.
In addition to coaching track and field at Schlagle High School in Kansas City, Kansas, Hobson is known as one of the best sprint and agility coaches in the world. Over the years, he’s worked with Derrick Thomas, Kevin Ross, Lorenzo Cain, Muna Lee and Justin Gatlin – to name a few. But of all the athletes Hobson has helped train, he said Greene is head and shoulders above the rest.
When asked what made Greene such a special athlete, Hobson quickly said, “Dedication and believing in himself.”
That dedication and competitive nature was first sparked by a sibling rivalry.
“All my sports interest came about because of my older brother,” Greene said. “They played football. I wanted to play football. My brother ran track, and I ran track. And I just wanted to be better than my brother. Everything he did, I just wanted to be better than him, and if I could be better than him, I would feel like I made it.”
Maurice Greene’s brother, Ernest Greene, said early on he would beat Maurice while running – until around the time Maurice Greene turned 17 years old.
"We were racing up a hill,” Ernest Greene said. “And my mom was watching us, and I was like, 'Wow, he beat me.'”
But it wasn't until a few years later that Ernest Greene realized his brother had a special gift.
“Down in the Texas Relays one year, he was down there running, and he went up against Carl Lewis and gave him the business.”
The following day, an Associated Press headline read, ‘Unknown Beats Carl Lewis to Headline Relays.’ Maurice Greene has been making headlines since.
In 1999 in Athens, Greece, Greene sprinted into the history books, running the 100 meter in 9.79 seconds – A world record at the time. It’s something he views as an accomplishment not just for himself, but for the Kansas City Metro, especially Wyandotte County, where he grew up.
“I would love it. Every time somebody would be like, 'Hey how’d you do that from Kansas City? I would tell them look; Kansas City has some athletes. We are an athletic city.'”
The baton has now been passed, and Greene’s not surprised at the talent in our backyard.
As for how to navigate the 2020 Tokyo Olympics without any fans in the stands, Greene had the following advice for the athletes.
“You have to stay locked in and it’s going to be tougher this year," Greene said. "Because I used to thrive off the crowd, and the energy they have in there. Now they’re going to be in a big stadium, and it’s going to be iffy. So, you’re going to have to get yourself up in some kind of way.”