23 November 2012 – Barcelona, Spain – Two-time Olympic 400m Hurdles champion Ed Moses (USA), 1992 Olympic champion Kevin Young (USA) and 1983 World silver medallist Harald Schmid (GER) appeared at the press point at the IAAF Centenary Gala in Barcelona. These were some of the highlights.
This city, Barcelona, was the scene of your World record. What are your thoughts on being back?
Kevin Young: It’s great to be back in Barcelona. Since then a lot has happened, I’ve got married and my life has changed in many ways, but it’s always great to be a part of the athletics family, especially as a lot of my track and field heroes are here.
Did you think your world record would last as long as it has?
KY: No I didn’t. I remember saying to Angelo Taylor when he was in college that if there’s anyone talented enough to break my world record, it would have been him. The fortunate part is that, including him, no one else has figured out how to run as fast as I did.
Harald, tell us your memories of the 1987 World Championships – that was an extremely close race.
Harald Schmid: There really was only one big problem for me with the track in Rome – it was two metres too short! Had it been a 402m Hurdles race, I would have won! It was a wonderful race in Rome and it’s funny how no one can remember the winning time – the most memorable thing was three of us finishing really close on the line.
Do you think that some of the current generation of athletes are afraid to look at legends of the past as idols because they fear that they’ll never be as good as them?
KY: I look at myself and recall when we were chasing 47.02 as the World record. If you don’t set goals high enough, then you’ll never get there. But also for the current young hurdlers, they need to know the event. I was a big fan of the sport throughout my whole life and even now when I see all the legends of the sport I become like a nervous fan again because I still really admire them and look up to them.
Usain Bolt gets a lot of headlines, but what do you think will help the rest of the sport get better exposure?
Ed Moses: I come from the old school and I think the top athletes need to race against each other more often, six, seven times a year – that’s what the sport is missing. I think athletes are afraid to lose; they think they’re going to lose marketing value when they lose. But at the same time the fans want to see the athletes. They don’t care if you win all the time. I want to see Usain race against Tyson Gay and Yohan Blake a few times a year and see who’s going to win the best out of seven times across the course of a season.
HS: I personally think that there are too many championships. It’s the Olympics one year then the World Champs the next year, then the Europeans the next. There are too many winners. Then again, you have to keep the sport in the public eye so maybe there is no perfect solution.
How did you manage to keep the motivation and hunger throughout your incredible winning streak?
EM: I enjoyed the training. What I was doing every day to get in that condition took a lot of time and a lot of energy so it wasn’t hard for me to remain focused. It was a lifestyle for me, the enjoyment was never a problem. If I ran 20 races a year, that was 16 minutes of training – out of nine or ten months of training, that’s nothing.
I would wake up at the morning, and in California we’re about nine hours ahead of Germany. I’d say to myself, ‘Harald has probably finished his workout by now, I need to get busy!’ Guys like him were my motivation.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF