Bad handoff counters Greene's strong run

Updated: April 3, 2004, 6:20 PM ET
Associated Press

AUSTIN -- It's been a while since Maurice Greene felt what it was like to cross the finish line in first place.

Last season he battled injuries and lost his title as the world's fastest man to Tim Montgomery.

Greene was back on track at the Texas Relays on Saturday. But he had to contend with a bad handoff from teammate Ato Boldon, and USA Red team anchor J.J. Johnson edged out Greene at the finish line to take the 4x100-meter gold medal.

The USA Red team managed the fastest finish in the world so far this year with a time of 38.14, followed by Greene's HSI team at 38.30. USA Blue team finished in third place with a time of 38.71.

Boldon held a slim lead over USA Red's Darvis Patton going into the final handoff to Greene, and that's when the race started to break down.

With Boldon approaching Greene in the final turn, Greene started to take off, but Boldon wasn't prepared to deliver the stick just yet, making Greene stop, grab the baton and start all over.

"It was just a bad handoff," Greene said. "We were in great position. Me and Ato are still working on the handoff. It takes time."

Boldon has only handed off to Greene twice -- once at last weekend's Stanford Invitational and once during training prior to the Stanford race.

"It's pretty impressive to have a mistake like that and still run a 38.30," said Boldon of HSI's final time, which was almost one second faster that last weekend's.

The stakes are getting higher with the Summer Olympics looming.

"I don't like losing in anything," Greene said. "And this is an Olympic year. Everyone has one common goal of going to the Olympics."

Greene said staying healthy is his No. 2 goal, behind winning.

"That's the best thing I could do," Greene said. "It's nice to think about. I've had all these knick-knack little injuries, and I feel great now. We just need to get the stick around faster."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press