Wednesday, May 25

The decade of Edwin Moses

On June 4, 1987, the Vallehermoso Stadium erupted to chant the name of an athlete who had just lost the 400m hurdles at the international meeting in Madrid.

The cheers were not for the winner, but for the runner-up. Nine years, nine months and nine days later, Edwin Moses lost another race.

He had not done so since the end of August 1977. The streak, the longest in the history of athletics, ended when Moses stumbled at the tenth and final hurdle and finished 0.13 seconds behind Danny Harris.

Rarely in the history of athletics has such dominance of an event been seen. Moses, a nuclear engineer, entered the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976 with no previous experience in the discipline.

On July 25 of that year, he broke the world record in the final with a time of 47.64 seconds. The silver and bronze medals were one and two seconds behind Edwin that afternoon.

The USA’s withdrawal from the 1980 Moscow Games deprived Edwin of one of the clearest medals in history.

The Olympic Games in the Russian capital took place during the years of Moses’ absolute dominance.

The American was an unbeatable athlete. In the same year, he broke his own world record again, setting it at 47.13 seconds. Milan witnessed what Moscow missed.

He had to wait until the Los Angeles Games in 1984 to win his second Olympic gold medal. Months earlier, on 31 August 1983, he had once again broken the record.

For the first time someone came close to sub 46 seconds. Moses entered the Olympic Games with a time of 47.02.

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That time has only ever been beaten by four athletes in history. Kevin Young in Barcelona 92 and Karsten Warholm, Rai Benjamin and Alison dos Santos in the historic final of the Tokyo Games.

With Seoul 1988 in the background, Moses continued to win until the aforementioned event in Madrid. At the end of the summer of 1987, he felt again what it was like to lose a race.

It was precisely in Seoul that he decided to call it a day. A bronze medal in the Olympic final seemed too little for the greatest athlete of a discipline in the history of athletics.

That defeat against his compatriot Andre Phillips and Senegal’s Amadou Dia Ba put an end to Moses’ career. His legend would never end.

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