Olympic sprinter Maurice Greene swaps spikes for dancing shoes

Mon Feb 9, 2009 9:26pm EST
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By Gene Cherry

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - Maurice Greene's powerful legs still keep him in the spotlight but his ballroom dancing shoes, not sprinter's spikes, pay the bills these days.

The former Olympic and world champion has been traveling by bus across America for the past two months entertaining audiences as part of the touring company of the popular television show Dancing With The Stars.

"This is a lot fun-er," Greene told Reuters during a recent stop in Raleigh. "When I was competing that was stressful. This is going out and having fun."

The 34-year-old American retired from athletics before the 2008 season, citing a calf injury, but he was not ready to put away his showmanship.

An agent arranged for the sprinter to team up with professional dancer Cheryl Burke on the television show and after a fifth-place finish they joined the 37-city tour.

"He's very good, he's disciplined and an athlete," Burke told television reporters.

"I thought I was okay (as a dancer)," Greene told Reuters, "but ballroom dancing is completely different than dancing in the clubs. I knew nothing about that."

The biggest challenge was learning technique, Greene said.   Continued...

<p>Former U.S. sprinter Maurice Greene appears on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" in this publicity photo released to Reuters February 9, 2009. REUTERS/Kelsey McNeal/ABC/Handout</p>