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Greene cruises through 100m heats

• Olympics 2004: Special report 

ATHENS, Greece -- Maurice Greene made a smooth start in his bid to defend his 100 meters Olympic title, running 10.18 seconds to win his first-round heat.

"It was an early morning jog," said the American. "It was good and it's only going to get faster."

Greene's American teammate Shawn Crawford set the fastest time, winning his heat in 10.02 seconds despite slowing up at the finish.

Crawford, the fastest man in the world this year, wore a hat and sunglasses to combat the effects of the extreme heat in the Olympic stadium.

"It's the first time I've worn a hat in competition but it's just a little sun visor on the back of my neck so my engine doesn't overheat," said Crawford. "It's the easiest 10.02 I've run in my life."

Jamaica's Asafa Powell, who has beaten Greene twice in the past month, also ran within himself to clock 10.06 seconds to win his heat.

Francis Obikwelu, the Nigerian-born Portuguese sprinter who won the Paris Golden League event last month, won his heat in 10.09 seconds.

World champion Kim Collins of St. Kitts and Nevis advanced to the second round in 10.11 seconds while Namibian 36-year-old Frank Fredericks, a two-time 100 meters silver medallist, won the opening heat of the day in 10.12 seconds.

Greene is seeking to emulate Carl Lewis, who won consecutive gold medals in athletics' blue riband event in 1984 and 1988.

Atto Boldon, a silver medallist in Sydney in 2000 and a bronze medal winner four years earlier in Atlanta, was the biggest casualty of the first round, failing to qualify with a time of 10.41 seconds.

The second round takes place later on Saturday with the semifinals and final on Sunday.

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