Edwin Moses - A Prophetic Dream
A Prophetic Dream
At the end of August in 1983, Moses dreamed he saw the numbers "8-31-83" then, repeatedly, the numbers "47.03." "8-31-83" was his 28th birthday, and "47.03" was a very good time in the 400-meter hurdles—so good, in fact that it was a tenth of a second better than the world record Moses had set in 1980.
"8-31-83" was also the date of a race Moses was due to run in Koblenz, West Germany. At the race, he was relaxed—so relaxed that he went to the starting line without socks and still wearing his watch, which he customarily took off before racing. In the weeks before the race, he had run 47.37 and 47.43 in the 400-meter hurdles. His relative slowness in these runs was due to the fact that he had gone out so fast and with such intensity that he ran up on the first hurdles in twelve strides, had to chop his steps to get over the hurdles, and lost momentum and speed. At the race in which he ran 47.43, he told Kenny Moore in Sports Illustrated,, "Everything was bad. I lost at least three-tenths [of a second], chopping, and I got tired awfully early."
So, at Koblenz, Moses decided to relax. Europeans are great fans of track and field, and the stadium was filled with 22,000 spectators. At the starting gun, Moses took off and cleared the first hurdle perfectly. He chopped at the second, third, and fifth hurdles, running even with American Andre Phillips. At the seventh hurdle, Moses accelerated. Phillips told Moore, "I saw him take a little look over his shoulder. And he just took off!" For the last 90 meters, Moses flew, not chopping, running seamlessly. His time was 47.02, a world record by .11 of a second—and a hundredth of a second faster than the time in his dream. As a result of his world record, Moses received the 1983 Sullivan Award for Best Amateur Athlete.
At the time, only three other runners had ever run the 400-meter hurdles faster then 48 seconds: Moses, Harald Schmid, John Akii-Bua, and Andre Phillips. Schmid accomplished the feat three times, and Akii-Bua each did it once. By July of 1984, Moses had done it twenty-seven times.
When Moses set that new record, he became instantly famous. Interviews in the media, advertising contracts, and other promotions changed the way the public viewed him. Moses told Kirkpatrick that before his record, interviewers focused on numbers and statistics: How many hurdles were there in the race? How fast could he run them? Moses commented that reporters didn't ask him personal questions, and assumed that because he often wore dark glasses and was an analytical person, reporters assumed, he said, "that I was aloof and distant and unapproachable and—I loved this one—radical. I felt like going around saying, 'I didn't do it.'" In contrast to this image, he said, "I've always made friends easily."
- Edwin Moses - Awards And Accomplishments
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