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London 2012 Olympics: America's Edwin Moses, the Greatest Hurdler of All Time

February 20, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 187

Elected To The National Track & Field Hall of Fame

Despite his retirement from track and field, he is still inspiring American people. His name: Edwin Corley Moses, former hurdler and a longtime campaigner for the rights of athletes. Widely regarded as the greatest hurdler of all time, Moses won 122 consecutive races from 1977 through 1987 (exactly nine years, nine months and nine days!), an incredible record in sporting history. Besides being the "best hurdler of the Planet" for nine years running, he set four worldwide records and captured eight global titles, including two Olympian crowns (Montreal '76 & L.A. '84). He probably would have won more medals if the United States hadn't boycotted the 1980 Moscow Games.

Originally hailing from Dayton (Ohio), where he was born on August 31, 1955, Moses had immersed himself in sports since his childhood, an era when his fellow American Glenn Davis was a world champion in the men's 400m hurdles after his second straight victory at the 1960 Olympiad in Italy's capital city of Rome.

Over the next years, Moses came to Atlanta (Georgia) on a scholarship to Morehouse College, where he studied industrial engineering. There, he also started his athletic career as a runner. Soon afterwards, he, however, gained recognition as a hurdler (400-meter hurdles), inside and outside of the United States.

Edwin Moses (America) vs. John Akii-Bua (Uganda)

At the age of 21, Moses captured a berth at the Montreal Summer Games, following his participation at the 1976 Olympic Track-and-Field Trials. Barely months after, on July 25, 1976, Edwin Moses led America to win its first Olympian title in the men's 400m hurdles since 1964. Surprisingly, Moses had won the gold medal in the Montreal's Olympic Stadium; his first major international success despite having less experience that his rivals.

Certainly, it was special year for him and the States. Moses also set a new world record of 47,64 seconds, while his fellow Olympian Mike Shine came in second with a time of 48,69 seconds, in one of the most memorable scenes in Olympic history. But that was only the beginning of a remarkable career as hurdler on the world sporting map. Evgueni Gavrilenko of the Soviet Union finished third in Canada.

Prior to the 1976 Montreal Games, Moses' main rival for the universal trophy was John Akii-Bua, the Ugandan star since 1972 when he won the 400m hurdles in the Munich Olympiad. In addition to winning the event at the XX Summer Games, Akii-Bua, protégé of Uganda's left-wing tyrant Idi Amin Dada, won a gold medal in the 1973 Afro-Latin American Games in Guadalajara (Mexico) and had been training very hard in the Federal Republic of Germany with the blessing of the Ugandan administration. Nonetheless, the much-anticipated "fight" between Akii-Bua and Moses did not occur: The defending champion declined to compete in Montreal'76 after Idi Amin Dada boycotted the Summer Games.

Edwin Moses vs. Harald Schmid (West Germany)

By 1977, America's Moses was known for his rivalry with Harald Schmid of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). In August of that year, five days before his birthday, Moses lost to Schmid at an international contest on West German soil -- his last defeat until 1987. In the following days, Moses beat Schmid to win the global title in the First IAAF World Cup at Dusseldorf (WG).

Moses won the American Trials in 1980, making him eligible to compete for the United States Olympic team. However, he could not take part in the 1980 Moscow Olympics because of the U.S-led boycott (an anti-Communist strategy spearheaded by then U.S. President James Earl Carter).

A Fervent Campaigner for the Rights of Athletes

Moses has a formidable reputation, not only as an Olympic winner, but also as a sports leader. In the wake of the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Moses used his fame to support the rights of athletes. His pioneer project "Athletes Trust Fund" was approved by Spain's Juan Antonio Samaranch, chairman of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), allowing the amateur athletes to get financial assistance from the government and private organizations.

In September 1981, Moses was back in sports when he earned his third straight title at the IAAF III World Cup --- after his wins in Dusseldorf 1977 and Montreal 1979--- by defeating Volker Beck of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and Holland's Harry Schulting in the finals on Italian soil.

Due to his extraordinary talent in the global competitions and Olympic leadership, as well as developing a new technique in the men's 400m hurdles, Moses obtained the James E. Sullivan Memorial trophy in 1983, the most prestigious award for America's amateur athletes.

Competing as the world-record holder, Moses claimed his second triumph in the Olympics when he picked up a gold medal at Los Angeles '84. This performance made him an athlete of genuine global stature. In the finals of the 1984 Games, he made a mark of 47,75 seconds by beating Danny Harris (48,13) and Schmid (48,19) - equalling the record of his countryman Glenn Davis, twice Olympian champion in the 400m hurdles (Melbourne 1956 and Rome 1960).

Born to Run

During his 30s, Moses captured the competition in the First Goodwill Games -a kind of Olympiad-- in the Soviet Union -what is now Russia-- earning his seventh major world trophy. Subsequently, in the pre-Olympic year 1987, Harris beat Moses in the Spaniard capital of Madrid, breaking Moses' record streak of 122 consecutive races without a defeat.

With two golds in the IAAF World Championships from 1983 through 1987, Moses went to Korea to defend his title at the quadrennial Summer Olympics in late 1988, but he took home a bronze medal. A couple months later, he retired from track-and-field competition, following a 12-year career as a top athlete.

In addition to earning the Sullivan Award, Moses has received other honors, including the United States Track & Field 's Jesse Owens Award in 1981 and the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year in 1984. By 1994, he was inducted into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame.

Besides being an activist for sportsmen and women, Moses is involved with projects to support many anti-drug policies from 1988 on. As a result of Moses' Olympian leadership, he was appointed President of Laureus World Sports Academy in 2000, a nonprofit organization which "embraces the principle of using sport as a tool for social change around the globe".

Universally famous, from Japan to South Africa, Moses is one of the most popular icons in Ohio - "Buckeye State"--- alongside other personalities such as Neil Armstrong, Thomas Edison, Jesse Owens, Toni Morrison, and Steven Spielberg. Upon his win at Los Angeles 1984, a Daytona street was renamed after Edwin Moses.

Alejandro Guevara Onofre: Within a span of three years, Alejandro has produced a host of high-quality articles/essays about cultures of the world, "re-discovering countries" and exploring exotic locations -from Chad to Vietnam, from Kosovo to the paradise island of Dominica - and new biographies (from such disparate individuals as Halle Berry, Alicia Alonso, José Gamarra Zorrilla, Raúl Castro Ruz, and Mario Vargas Llosa). He also has made a name for himself as an expert on Summer Olympics, becoming the top "Olympian author" at; stories based on athletic perseverance and Olympian spirit in global sports, including the United States of America. Under this backdrop, he has declared himself as "the world's No. 1 fan of the Olympics".

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