Greene tells his tetchy American rivals: Let's sort it out on the track!
By Jonathan McEvoy
15 May 2012
Showdown: Dai Greene can't wait for the Olympics to do his talking on the track.
Dai Greene is not afraid to express his opinions. We know this because he has called a cheat a cheat, whether the juiced-up culprit is British, as in Dwain Chambers, or American, as in LaShawn Merritt.
Hallelujah say those of us in the press who welcome a break from the PR bunkum that emerges from a thousand other mouths. But Greene does not throw insults around.
He says what he means, carefully, with the weight of a World Championship 400 metres hurdles gold medal to validate it, or he does not say it at all.
This brings us to a message he is sending out to the other side of the Atlantic. The background: a couple of thin-skinned American rivals have reacted tetchily to comments he is incorrectly alleged to have uttered.
The first of them is the 2005 world 400m hurdles champion Bershawn Jackson. He complained: ‘Greene said we were too “overrated”. What does he mean by “overrated”?’
He also told Greene: ‘Don’t talk bad about me in the press conference when I always had nothing but good to say about you.’
The press conference referred to is the one after Greene won the world gold in Daegu, Korea, last autumn. It is on YouTube. Greene has double-checked it and he did not use the word ‘overrated’.
Angelo Taylor, the two-time reigning Olympic champion, also entered the fray. He said: ‘Last year was one of those years. I was injured, Bershawn was injured, Kerron Clement (another American and Olympic silver medallist four years ago) was injured.
‘It’s different in Olympic year and we swept the hurdles in Beijing. Times are going to be so much quicker. The 48.2 or whatever he ran (48.26sec to be exact) was very slow. I’ve been to a few Olympic Games and 47-mid, 47-low, has always won. This year might take 46.’
Now we hand the floor to Greene, a Sportsmail columnist, to set the record straight.
‘The Americans are talking as if I was slagging them off,’ he says. ‘I stand for high morals in sport. So I can’t be seen to be criticising them for no reason.
‘No, I don’t go out for a drink with them and, yes, I am fiercely competitive. I look forward to racing them and I’ll be aiming to beat them, as I always aim to do, and as I managed at the worlds last year. But I acknowledge they have been the outstanding nation in my event for years and I wouldn’t disrespect them. I’m not blase about that. I do not overlook the fact.
‘In no interview have I said anything different. I just said after Daegu that it was a change not to see the Americans on the podium; not that they were overrated. But the story that I disrespected them is out there and I wanted to pick up on it to stop it.’
Greene is, as we were saying, not someone to shrink away from strong views deeply held and factually reported. Take his denunciation of Merritt, the Olympic 400m champion, who was banned for 21 months for using dehydroepiandrosterone.
Merritt claimed he bought it as a penis enhancement, of all laughable explanations.
Standards: LaShawn Merritt was banned for 21 months for using a steroid. Greene countered that if he lined up against Merritt in the 4x400m final he would ‘call him a cheat and tell him he shouldn’t be here’.
Today he does not retract a word. ‘They can hate me for that but I am not taking it back,’ he says. ‘Those are the moral standards I believe in.
Firm stance: Greene denies disrespecting his Americans rivals
‘Maybe they thought because I was having a go at Merritt they should stick with him and have a go at me to show solidarity. Or maybe they do see me as a threat and that’s why they have said the things they have.
‘It seems as if they have taken the bait dangled in front of their mouths. It hasn’t taken much for them to get their true feelings out.
‘They have had a stab at my winning time. I take those things with a pinch of salt. Being world champion, I believe I can come away with a gold medal from the Olympics. We will see when London rolls around.
‘They were in the race in Daegu. And as one of my training group said, “If you hadn’t won in that time, it would’ve been even slower”.’
Yes, Jackson and Taylor were sixth and seventh in Daegu, running 49.24sec and 49.31sec.
‘They also mentioned injuries,’ adds Greene. ‘Well, everyone gets injuries. I get injuries. You don’t whine on about it and make excuses.’
Jackson is known as Batman and Greene has therefore, to his amusement, been called The Riddler by the opposing faction. The two are due to meet for the first time this season at the Diamond League meeting in Rome on May 31.
We’ll be watching — and listening — carefully.