Michael Johnson (athlete)

Michael Johnson (athlete)

Michael Duane Johnson (born September 13, 1967 in Dallas, Texas) is a retired United States sprinter. He won four Olympic gold medals and was crowned world champion nine times. Johnson currently holds the world record in the 400 m and 4 x 400 m relay and formerly held the world record in the 200 m and Indoor 400 m. His 200 m time of 19.32 at the Atlanta Olympics stood as the record for over 12 years. Johnson has also run the fastest 300 m in history, which is not recognized by IAAF as a "world record" due to the 300 m being an unofficial event.

He is the only athlete in history to win both the 200 m and 400 m events at the same Olympics, a feat he accomplished at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Johnson is also the only man to successfully defend his Olympic title in the 400 m. Aside from his Olympic success, Johnson accumulated nine gold medals at World Championships, which is the most of any athlete in history. [http://www.usatf.org/athletes/bios/oldBios/2001/Johnson_Michael.asp "Michael Johnson"] . USA Track & Field.org. 24 January 2001. Accessed 25 August 2008.] He is the only athlete in history to both run the 200 m under 20 seconds (23 occasions) and the 400 m under 44 seconds (22 occasions).

Johnson was noted for his unique running style. His upright stance and very short steps defied the perceived wisdom that a high knee lift was essential for maximum speed.

Early life and career

Johnson was born and raised in Dallas as the youngest of five children, and attended Skyline High School and Baylor University.cite web| last =Schwartz| first =Larry| title =Johnson doubled the difficulty| work =SportsCentury| publisher =ESPN| year =2007| url =http://espn.go.com/sportscentury/features/00016046.html| accessdate =2008-06-04] At Baylor, Johnson was coached by Clyde Hart, and he won several NCAA titles in both indoor and outdoor sprints and relays. Among his early collegiate feats, Johnson broke the school record for the 200 m in his very first race with a time of 20.41, and in 4 x 400 m relays he clocked a leg at 43.5. He prepared for the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, but developed a stress fracture of his left fibula before the U.S. Olympic Trials began. He did not qualify in the 400 m and he withdrew from the 200 m. In 1989, he placed 2nd in the 400 at the USA Indoor Championship, while at the NCAA Outdoor Championship he led off runner-up Baylor in the 4 x 400 with a time of 43.8 and won the 200 in an American record time of 20.59. Johnson hit his stride in his senior season, winning three of the four major 200 m events on the schedule, taking the 400 m at the USA Indoors Championship, and anchoring several winning relay teams.

Johnson graduated from Baylor in 1990 with a bachelor's degree in business, as the first athlete ever to hold the number one world ranking in both the 200 m and the 400 m. In 1991, he won the world 200 m title in Tokyo by the largest margin of victory (.33 over Frankie Fredericks) since Jesse Owens won the event in the 1936 Summer Olympics.

Two weeks before the 1992 Summer Olympics began, Johnson and his agent both contracted food poisoning at a restaurant in Spain. Johnson lost both weight and strength. He was the favorite to win the 200 m going into the Olympics, but he could do no better than sixth in his semifinal heat, and failed to reach the 200 m final. Nevertheless, he was able to race as a member of the 4 x 400 m relay team, which won a gold medal and set a new world record time of 2:55.74. Johnson ran the third leg in a time of 44.73.

He won the 1993 U.S. title in the 400 m, and followed it with world titles in both the 400 m and 4 x 400 m relay. His 42.91 second split time in the 4 x 400 m relay remains the fastest 400 meters in history. At the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg, Johnson won his first 200 m and 400 m "double." No elite-level male track athlete had accomplished this in a major meet in the 20th century.

Atlanta Olympics

In 1996, Johnson ran 19.66 seconds in the 200 m at the U.S. Olympic Trials, breaking Pietro Mennea's record of 19.72 seconds, which had stood for 17 years. With that performance he qualified to run at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and prepared to attempt to win both the 200 meters and 400 meters events, a feat never before achieved by a male athlete. (Two women have won Olympic gold medals in both races in the same year: Valerie Brisco-Hooks in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, and Marie-José Perec, in the same 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.)

Johnson entered the Olympic finals donning a custom-designed pair of gold-colored Nike racing spikes made with Zytel, causing him to be nicknamed "The Man With the Golden Shoes." Sources differ on the exact weight of these shoes; the manufacturer of the spikes claims they weighed convert|3|oz|g|0|lk=on each,cite news| last =Christie| first =James| title =Bailey's Shoes Go High-Tech: Spikes to be ready for Skydome sprint| publisher =The Globe and Mail| date =1997-04-08| url =http://www.omni-lite.com/press1.php| format =reprint| accessdate =2008-06-04] while other sources state each shoe weighed about convert|94|g|oz|1. [cite web| last =Berggren| first =Svante| title =Sole structure - European Patent EP 0964625| work =FreePatentsOnline.com| year =2004| month =November| url =http://www.freepatentsonline.com/EP0964625B1.html| accessdate =2008-06-04] The left shoe was a US size 10.5 while the right shoe was a US size 11, to account for Johnson's shorter left foot.

On July 29, Johnson easily captured the 400 m Olympic title with an Olympic Record time of 43.49 seconds, almost one full second ahead of silver medalist Roger Black of Great Britain. At the 200 m final on August 1, Johnson ran the opening 100 meters in 10.12 seconds and achieved a peak speed of over convert|40|km/h|mph|0|lk=on. He finished the race in a world record time of 19.32 seconds, breaking by more than three tenths of a second the previous record he had set in the U.S. Olympic Trials - the largest improvement ever on a 200 m world record. Some commentators compared the performance to Bob Beamon's record-shattering long jump at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. The record was broken twelve years later by Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt who ran a time of 19.30 seconds at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. [cite web|title=Bolt claims 200m gold with record |publisher=BBC Sport |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/olympics/athletics/7572131.stm |date=2008-08-20 |accessdate=2008-08-20] Johnson later said of Bolt "This guy is Superman II.". [cite web |title= Michael Johnson on Usain Bolt |author=Johnson, Michael |publisher=BBC Sport |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/olympics/athletics/7572854.stm |date=2008-08-20 |accessdate=2008-08-23]

After the 1996 season ended, Johnson received the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in any sport in the United States, [In American English, the term "athlete" is a generic term for a competitive sportsperson, and is not specific to the sport known as "athletics" in most of the English-speaking world and "track and field" in the U.S.] and was named ABC's "Wide World of Sports" Athlete of the Year. In August, HarperCollins published his biographical/motivational book, "Slaying the Dragon: How to Turn Your Small Steps to Great Feats".

The world's fastest man

In 1997 Johnson began appearing in television advertisements in which he was billed as "the world's fastest man" as a result of his 200 m world record. This was despite the fact that the 100 metres world record holder, at the time Donovan Bailey, was typically given that unofficial title.

In a publicity stunt in June 1997, he raced against Donovan Bailey in a convert|150|m|yd|0|adj=on race at the Rogers Centre (then SkyDome) in Toronto. The event was unsanctioned, and its unique course consisted of 75 meters of curved track and a 75 meter straight. The race was billed as a competition for the title of "World's Fastest Man." However it failed to live up to expectations when Johnson pulled up around the 110 meter mark claiming to have injured his quadricep, while being well behind Bailey at the time. Bailey won the race and the $1.5 million prize that came with the victory, Johnson still receiving $500,000. That same year, Johnson won his third 400 m world title in Athens.

Later career

At the 1998 Goodwill Games in New York, Johnson anchored the U.S. 4 x 400 m relay team with Jerome Young, Antonio Pettigrew, and Tyree Washington to a win and set a world record of 2:54.20. Pettigrew has since admitted doping from 1997, while Young was caught doping in 1999. The world record was annulled by the IAAF in August 2008, and reverted to the time of 2:54:29 Johnson helped set in the 1993 World Championships. [cite web|title=400m relay world record amended |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/olympics/athletics/7556411.stm|publisher=BBC Sport|date=2008-08-12|accessdate=2008-08-24]

Johnson was plagued by injury in 1999, and his following season was troubled with two injury scares that limited him to just four 400 m races before the 1999 World Championships in Seville. Were it not for an IAAF policy that allowed automatic entry to defending champions, he could not have raced in Seville since he failed to compete in the U.S. trials due to his injury. He recovered and won his fourth 400 meter world title with a new world record time of 43.18 seconds. He later ran the last leg of the 4 x 400 m relay for the ninth World Championship gold medal in his collection.

After qualifying for the 2000 Summer Olympics in the 400 m at the U.S. Olympic Trials, Johnson injured himself in the 200 m final while racing in a highly anticipated matchup against the 100 m and 200 m world champion, Maurice Greene. The injury prevented a defense of his 200 m Olympic title.

Johnson ended his career at the 2000 Summer Olympics by winning gold medals in the 400 m and the 4 x 400 m relay, which brought his total number of Olympic gold medals to five. With this performance, he earned the distinction of being the oldest gold medalist at any track event shorter than 5000 m in Olympic history.

Michael Johnson has run 200 m under 19.80 seconds six times, and he has run the distance in less than 20 seconds twenty-three times. He holds nine of the top 50 200 m performances of all time.cite web| last =Larsson| first =Peter| title =All-time men's best 200m| work =Track and Field all time Performances| date =2008-06-01| url =http://www.alltime-athletics.com/m_200ok.htm| accessdate =2008-06-05] Johnson has run twenty-two 400 m races in under 44 seconds; he holds twenty-two of the top 50 and five of the top 10 400 m performances of all time. Over the course of his career, he twice set the world record in the 200 m, three times set the world record as part of the 4 x 400 m relay team, twice set the indoor 400 m world record, set the outdoor 400 m world record once, and set the 300 m mark once.

After athletics

Since retiring from competitive track, Johnson has worked as a television commentator, often for the BBC in the United Kingdom, where he also writes a column for the "Daily Telegraph". He also has served as the agent for Jeremy Wariner, who won the gold medal in the 400 m at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Wariner, like Johnson, ran at Baylor University for coach Clyde Hart, and Johnson serves as a consultant for Baylor's track athletes. He was elected to the United States Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2004, where his 200 m performance at the 1996 Olympics was named the greatest track and field moment of the last 25 years.

In June 2008, Johnson voluntarily returned the 4 x 400 m relay gold medal he earned in the 2000 Olympics after Antonio Pettigrew, who ran the second leg, admitted he took performance enhancing drugs between 1997 and 2001. [cite press release
title =Statement From United States Olympic Committee Chief Executive Officer Jim Scherr Regarding Antonio Pettigrew and Michael Johnson Returning their Medals| publisher =United States Olympic Committee| date =2008-06-03| url =http://www.usoc.org/news/article/1986| accessdate =2008-06-05
] Pettigrew made his admission while giving testimony in the trial of coach Trevor Graham for his role in the BALCO scandal. On August 2, 2008, the International Olympic Committee stripped the gold medal from the U.S. men's 4x400-meter relay team.Wilson, Stephen. cite web |url=http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080802/ap_on_sp_ol/oly_ioc_us_medals |title= "IOC strips gold from 2000 US relay team." |archiveurl=http://www.webcitation.org/5aK4w8XKD |archivedate=2008-08-24 "Associated Press". 2 August 2008.] Three of the four runners in the event final, including Pettigrew and twins Alvin and Calvin Harrison, and preliminary round runner Jerome Young, all have admitted or tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Only Johnson and Angelo Taylor, who also ran in preliminary rounds, were not implicated. Johnson stated he had already planned to return the medal because he felt "cheated, betrayed and let down" by Pettigrew's testimony.

Johnson currently lives in Mill Valley, California, with his wife Kerry, and their son Sebastian.cite web| title =Michael Johnson profile| publisher =Baylor University| year =2008| url =http://baylorbears.cstv.com/sports/c-track/mtt/johnson_michael00.html| accessdate =2008-06-05]

Personal bests


External links

* [http://www.olympic.org/uk/athletes/profiles/bio_uk.asp?PAR_I_ID=119467 Profile] by International Olympic Committee

NAME= Johnson, Michael
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Johnson, Michael Duane
SHORT DESCRIPTION=retired American sprinter who holds world records in the 200 meters, 400 meters and 4 x 400 m relay
DATE OF BIRTH=September 13, 1967
PLACE OF BIRTH=Dallas, Texas

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