Greene Inspires Success

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Byline: PHIL BLANCHE

HOW Warren Gatland must wish he could bottle Dai Greene's spirit ahead of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

Or Gary Speed as he seeks to build on Friday night's welcome 2-1 Euro 2012 victory over Montenegro and lead the Wales football team from its lowest Fifa ranking of 117.

Greene's story is a triumph over adversity, the multiple 400 metres hurdles champion having had to deal with epilepsy on his journey to entering the pantheon of great Welsh sporting figures.

It is also a lesson in how to be the best you have to believe you are the best - and Greene has felt that from the moment he started taking enormous strides at the world championships when finishing seventh in Berlin two years ago.

Since then the former Swansea City youth footballer has bagged gold like some crazed pioneer prospector, each major victory hinting that an even greater prize lies around the corner.

Last year it was a stamina-sapping European and Commonwealth double when he had to peak twice in the same season (an incredibly difficult task for elite athletes), on Thursday the World Championship competition was blown away in the final straight as if treacle had been poured in their lanes.

If Wales didn't know it had one special athlete on its hands, it did when the best of the rest went backwards in Daegu for Greene to become the second Welshman after Colin Jackson to win world gold.

Now the 2012 Olympics beckon when Greene could join three legends of British athletics - Daley Thompson, Linford Christie and Sally Gunnell - in claiming all four major titles.

Of course, you can't succeed on the track without pure athletics ability (even if Kriss Akabusi, still the holder of the British 400m hurdles record, reckons the Welshman is a slow starter) but what sets Greene apart is his unflinching desire to get over that line first.

The only barriers the 25-year-old from Llanelli sees are the 10 hurdles in front of him - the competition is to be respected but never feared.

Note how he came off that final bend in South Korea in fourth place, few among the thousands in the stadium or the millions at home believing that Greene would deliver Great Britain's first gold of the 2011 World Championships.

But Greene has an inner confidence bordering on arrogance, perhaps a trait missing in too many Welsh sportsmen and women but present in driven champions like Joe Calzaghe, Geraint Thomas and Nicole Cooke. …