Edwin Moses’ impossible dream
Edwin Moses turns 48 today and according to news services is planning to announce in Paris his comeback to international 400-meter hurdle competition — with the apparent goal of running in the Athens Olympics. Stories have appeared in Canada and from The Associated Press. And a recent Chicago Tribune story suggests he still demonstrates his hurdling technique.
Moses, of course, is a God to long hurdlers — and his comeback to elite competition would be biblical in its implications — and tremendously exciting to watch. But he’s not capable of clearing this hurdle:
Making the Olympic “A” qualifying standard of 49.20 (0r even the “B” standard of 49.50).
What would running sub-50 in the 400 hurdles mean at post-48?
Try these facts on for size:
The fastest 400-meter dash on record for men 45 and over is 49.89 by Fred Sowerby, 45. The official WMA world M45 age-group record for the 400-meter dash is 50.20 by Sowerby. The world record for M45 in 400 meter hurdles (with the same 36-inch hurdles) is 55.18 by Germany’s Guido Mueller, age 47. The American M45 long hurdles record is 55.7 by Jack Greenwood, 46, set back in 1972!
According to the the Age-Graded Tables of WMA in use in recent years, a 49.20 hurdle mark at age 48 would be equivalent to running 42 seconds as an open athlete! Simply impossible to comprehend under Earth conditions in the 21st century.
In 1999, Moses made some noises about a comeback — a rumor that never panned out.
In that post, Homi Hormasji writes: “Edwin looked positively pained at the suggestion (that he couldn’t run elite times at age 44)! He assured me that with just a modicum of training he would be able to post a time of under 50 seconds with relative ease. He did add that a time in the 47 sec. range would probably not be possible, but that to run sub-50 was still well within his abilities.”
And all despite a reported herniated disc!
Although sprinters like Merlene Ottey and Troy Douglas have proved that world-class times are still possible post 40, reaching elite levels nearing age 50 is a stretch by even my liberal imagination.
Edwin has a background in engineering and physics, but a goal of competing in Athens at age 49 simply defies the laws of human biomechanics. Even Willie Banks, another former world record holder still in the game in his late 40s, never set an Olympic goal for his athletic re-emergence.
Still, Edwin’s attempt at a comeback would generate tremendous press — and renewed examination of our niche. Masters track couldn’t help but benefit from the news. Edwin may take guff for even mentioning the C-word, but I salute his guts to put his legacy on the line.