Dubai : If Usain Bolt is the king of the modern-day sprint, American legend Edwin Moses was the emperor of nearly every 400 metres hurdles event in the 1970s and '80s.
Moses had become a household name and such was his domination that, between 1977 and 1987, he won 107 consecutive finals in 122 races, setting the world record in the event four times. Moses won golds at the 1976 and 1984 Olympic Games and the 1983 and 1987 World Championships.
Long after hanging up his running shoes, he continued to work within the US Olympic set-up from where he became greatly involved in the field of athlete eligibility and drug testing.
Since 2000, he has been chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, which will host its prestigious awards night at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi on March 10.
In an interview with Gulf News, Moses spoke about his Laureus Academy, the charity work it's involved in through the Sports For Good Foundation (SFGF) and, of course, world athletics with Bolt at the summit. Excerpts:
Gulf News: What are your thoughts on Bolt and his global domination?
Edwin Moses: I think every 20-30 years there's an athlete who comes around like him who is that dominant. I think for the next three to five years — you have a limited lifespan when you're a sprinter — he's going to be great. Bolt has been around for quite a long time already. A lot of people think he just came out of nowhere some two years ago, but he was 15 or 16 when he was running world-class times as a teenager. He's been around seven to eight years already, so in terms of lifetime he's another three or four good years. But then once you get to around the London Olympics in 2012 it becomes questionable as to how long he can sustain that kind of performance.
For him at this point staying injury-free is the main thing, but that's the most likely scenario because however great you are you are going to get injured at some point of time and coming back from injuries as a sprinter can be quite tricky.
Can you tell us more about your involvement in drug testing and the drug testing scenario today?
Well, I used to be in charge of the US Olympic Committee, their drug testing since 1996. That was my last year. There's been a big year on the part of the international federation, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), to really bring in higher level and specific tests.
So from a tech point of view I'm much more pleased than I was five years ago, in the way that they're going after athletes, the type of testing that they're doing and the substances they test for. But other than that I'm not working on it on a day-to-day basis.
There have been a few incidents of terrorism in sport. What's your view on the subject?
I think those events are out of the ordinary. I think at every sporting event in the world you have good security. We're very fortunate that nothing major has happened at a sporting event.
Can you take us through the nomination procedure for the awards?
The journalists choose for us, they give us the nominees, so it has nothing to do with us. We have about 1,200 journalists and that's where we get these names from and that's what makes it more objective, because it comes from people all over the world who follow sport.
I don't keep up with cricket or even soccer because we don't play that in the US, so I wouldn't know. If it was up to me I wouldn't know whom to vote for. That's why we need the panel selecting for us.
What is the SFGF all about?
Through the SFGF we have 70 projects in around 30 countries all over the world. We send the academy members out to identify projects that we can do. It can be setting up sports programmes, dealing with kids who are homeless and who live on the streets or kids who have to deal with HIV or who are battered out of any situation. We tie up with an organisation in a country that deals with kids on a full-time basis and we fund these organisations and monitor their progress and send academy members to do projects regularly.
Are there any projects in this part of the world?
We have a partnership in Jordan and we have projects dealing with kids in Israel and Palestine, where we work with both kids simultaneously using sport to develop social skills and to kind of diffuse the situation they're living in.
We have projects in Morocco dealing with girls, getting them into distance running, to do sport in general and teaching them to deal with things women are and aren't allowed to do in their country. So we hope to develop them and that's a big part of our movement.
Your thoughts on Abu Dhabi as a sporting destination.
I think it'll be fantastic. Those of us in the sporting world watch golf, tennis, motorsport and other sports that are put on here and this region has been doing big things in the last few years to build these things. So this is a great location and a good choice for us because we try to move Laureus around. And where we move and how we move has a lot to do with who we are.
Do you think the Laureus Awards define the true modern sportsman? Who do you think deserves this year's awards?