Michael Johnson (sprinter)

Michael Johnson ( 2010)

Michael Duane Johnson ( * September 13, 1967 in Dallas ) is a former American track and field athlete. Johnson has four Olympic victories and eight world championship titles over the distances 200 meters and 400 meters and the existing up to world record over 400 meters one of the most successful athletes of all time.

Between 1993 and 1999, Johnson succeeded over the 400 meters remains today a unique story of success, as he was able to win the title at all four world championships. In addition, he won at this track at the Olympic Games in 1996 and 2000 the gold medal.


Early success

Michael Johnson graduated in 1990 from Baylor University in Texas, where he studied marketing. There he met his coach Clyde Hart know who looked after him until his career end. During his studies, Johnson won several medals at the NCAA Championships. In the same year he succeeded the jump to the world's best, as he remained unbeaten throughout the season about 200 meters. He scored on 16 June with 19.90 s the first time a time under 20 seconds. At the end of the season he led with 19.85 s at the annual global leaderboard and finished with a time of 44.21 s about twice the distance of third place.

At the World Championships in Tokyo a year later, Johnson won over the 200 meters gold medal. With 20.01 s he distanced while the runner-up Frank Fredericks (Namibia ) by more than three tenths of a second. For that take place in the following year the Olympic Games in Barcelona Johnson was considered a contender for the gold medal.

On 9 June 1992 Johnson had in Rome against Frank Fredericks for over two years in a 200 - meter race again defeat plug. Nevertheless, the American was still as the favorite for the Olympic gold medal, not least through its convincing performance in the national elimination fights almost three weeks later. However, immediately before the Olympics Johnson fell ill from food poisoning, as a result, he lost a lot of weight. Due to the resulting pickled forced break Johnson stepped in Barcelona not at his best and missed the final race over 200 meters. As a consolation, he won at least one Olympic gold medal in the 4 x 400 - meter relay. In the occupation of Andrew Valmont, Quincy Watts, Johnson, Steve Lewis while the quartet ran a time of 2:55,74 min, which meant a new world record.

The era Johnson

In 1993, Johnson at the World Championships in Stuttgart only about 400 meters. He was also over this distance as the top favorite because he 's running a world -class time in the U.S. precipitates with 43.74. A year before Johnson made ​​on the stadium round a stir when it was first remained under 44 seconds in London. He was only the seventh runner, which succeeded this world. In Stuttgart, Johnson was his role as favorite and won its first gold medal in the 400 meters. He improved his personal best to 43.65 while again see how He also won him a year earlier in Barcelona the gold medal in the 4 x 400 - meter relay. In a slightly modified compared to Barcelona Cast ( Andrew Valmont, Quincy Watts, Harry Reynolds, Johnson), the U.S. team again presented a new world record ( 2:54,29 min).

At the World Championships in Gothenburg two years later Michael Johnson could even surpass his triumph of Stuttgart when he took even gold on the 200 meter next to his victories over the 400 meters and in the 4 x 400 - meter relay. About 400 meters, Johnson approached with a new personal best of 43.39 s the "Century World Record " of his compatriot Harry " Butch" Reynolds tenth of a second.

The year 1996 was the most successful in Johnson's career. Already at the U.S. Championships, which also took place as a short time later held the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Johnson his second fastest time to date was over 400 meters in 43.44 s at all. Three days later he exhibited his superior constitution also about half the distance to the test and undercutting, at outside temperatures of around 42 degrees Celsius, with 19.66 s to 17 years old world record of the Italian Pietro Mennea by six hundredths of a second.

But how four years earlier Michael Johnson also lost time over 200 yards against his eternal rival Frank Fredericks, as both the beginning of July in Oslo for the first time this year, clashed. But just three days later, Johnson was able to successfully take revenge in Stockholm.

Less than a month later, Johnson won at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, the gold medals on both routes. He missed over 400 meters his personal best by almost a tenth of a second, three days later he rose over 200 meters his own world record by more than three tenths of a second to 19.32 s for these two services was Johnson, among others, with the Sportsman of the Year Award honored by the Associated Press.

With accrued 37.267 km / h Johnson achieved the highest ever measured on a sprint track average speed in his world record run over 200 meters. This resulted in the following years many places to speculation as to whether Johnson ultimately was not faster than the former Olympic 100m champion Donovan Bailey ( CAN). For this reason, an exclusive race between the two over who was rarely spilled discharged 150 -meter route on 1 June 1997 at Rogers Centre in Toronto. But this in advance titled superlatives duel could not ultimately fulfill the expectations of the audience. Contrary to the general assumption was Michael Johnson from the start of the run back to hopeless and had to retire hurt to top it all after a good half of the race. In the same year he was chosen by the French sports newspaper L' Équipe World Sportsman of the Year.

As much as this loss to Bailey also hurt, the real drama was the injury which ultimately proved to be a thigh strain and set a start in the upcoming World Championships in Athens in question. Johnson, which primarily focused since Atlanta on the 400 meters, then actually had to give up the elimination fights and was allowed to participate only by a wildcard by the World Association at the World Championships. Unlike in previous years, this time it was not considered as the sole winner. Not least, too, as it was in Paris a race with indisputable 45.76 s completed end of June only in 5th place and thus could not for the first time in eight years a major competition on the 400-meter win. Nevertheless, Johnson won his third gold medal in Athens over the stadium round with moderate his standards but see 44.12 This remained his only medal because he was not considered because of its start waiving at the Trials for the season.

A year later, Johnson at the Goodwill Games in New York suburb Uniondale as cage motor with the U.S. relay team repeated a world record in the 4 x 400 meter mark. The scoring time of 2:54,20 min was until 2008 a world record. However, in the summer of 2008, the world record was due to several cases of doping in a world record relay team - except Johnson all of doping were transferred - withdrawn. Eligible world record, then, again the 2:54,29 minutes from the World Championships in Stuttgart in 1993.

At the 1999 World Championships in Seville Michael Johnson repeatedly won the world title over 400 meters. By winning his eighth gold medal in the meantime he succeeded after several attempts also to bring eleven years her held by his compatriot Harry Reynolds world record in his possession. With a time of 43.18 s he remained eleven hundredths of a second under the old record.

A year later, Johnson won, as already at the World Championships a year earlier in Seville, at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, the Gold medals over 400 meters. Originally, he also won gold in the relay, this medal but it was disallowed in 2008 due to the doping affair Antonio Pettigrew. The appearance in Sydney was Johnson's last international championship. The following year, he announced his resignation, without having participated at the 2001 World Championships in Edmonton.

Michael Johnson won four Olympic gold medals during his sports career. With a total of nine World Championship titles, six of them in individual disciplines, Michael Johnson has also replaced his compatriot Carl Lewis as the most successful coin collectors at World Athletics Championships. He benefited from the new rules of the IAAF, to halve the discharge cycle of the world championships two years from 1993.

Fastest man in the world?

With its spectacular world record run of Atlanta 1996 Michael Johnson reached an average speed of 37.267 km / h, which meant two 100-meter time of 9.66 seconds each. These were significantly lower than the former 100-meter world record of Canadian Donovan Bailey ( 9.84 s ), which meant that Johnson was " fastest man in the world " chosen by many predominantly domestic media for. In the 200-meter run, the second one hundred meters, however, are covered with a flying start. Likewise, the fact that Pietro Mennea already been attained at the record run in 1979 in Mexico City with 36.511 km / h has a value which has two 100-meter time of 9.86 seconds per corresponded and only twelve years later at this distance from the U.S. American Carl Lewis was set. On the other hand was in athletics has always been the 100-meter world record holder commonly called the fastest man in the world, as traditionally on the short sprint distance the highest speeds can be achieved. Thus, Donovan Bailey took this legal claim for themselves, because he not only held the record at this time, but also the reigning Olympic and world champion in the 100 meters was. Seriously raised that with Michael Johnson not only a proven long sprinters, but also an American doubts about the legality of this title, led in due time to a bitter rivalry between two athletes. Finally, a duel between two stars was set for the summer of 1997, which should clarify the question of the " fastest man " clearly. The race distance was set at 150 meters, to create a compromise between the different specialized routes of the main players. In addition to running duel even further comparisons between known representatives of the athletics were planned, such as the long jump between Heike Drechsler and Jackie Joyner - Kersee. Since the announcement of the project, the sporty spirit of this event has been repeatedly questioned. Many observers saw the real reason for this by many as " Circus " dubbed staging is to make the USA Track & Field for sponsors attractive. No later than the mid-1990s, Americans had to give their supremacy in the short sprints. In addition, ceded by the competition stage with Carl Lewis one of the last great figureheads. Michael Johnson should be built on the new superstar. On June 1, 1997, this event was finally discharged under the name One -to-one Challenge of Champions in the Skydome in Toronto. More than 60 countries bought the TV rights to the event, the highlight of which undoubtedly represented the duel on the 150m. Alone for the winner of this run, which was under the theme The world 's fastest we performed a hitherto unique premium of $ 1.5 million had been budgeted.

The run itself was the question of who for now has the honor of being considered the fastest man in the world, do not answer. The prize money secured while Donovan Bailey, as he s first crossed with a time of 14.99 to finish line, Michael Johnson, however, was the middle of the race, on the other hand. His creation of a pulled muscle in his thigh was considered by his Canadian opponent only with scorn and derision, which cast a further shadow over this event. Since Johnson after a weak start already significantly lagged from the start, it was suggested by quite a few observers that he wanted to forestall an imminent defeat with his task. Bailey apologized, although the next day for his verbal gaffes, but the accusation of questionable nature of this event could not be ruled out.

Running style

As a trademark, Johnson was the unusual running style. He denied his race with an erect, almost stiff upper body, which is generally looked like a swallowed broomstick, and a high step frequency. According to many experts put this a particularly economical way to run and is likely to have been a major reason for its speed.

Doping rumors

The world records of Johnson broke many observers from skepticism. But the facts that Johnson was tested during his career never positive for banned substances and it could be proven to suspected trainers or doctors no contacts, did not detract from the doping rumors.

One reason for this may be the often questionable behavior by the American be to avoid public appearances direct questions consistently after the doping problem. This led to repeated Eklats, culminating represented an initiated by sporting goods manufacturer Nike press conference at the 2001 World Championships in Edmonton. Michael Johnson, who served as co-host, had during this event to any questions about doping what some media representatives left the scene prematurely.

Only in occasional statements condemning Johnson doping and spoke among others also repeated for harsh penalties against the co-responsible trainers from.


Michael Johnson reached over 400 meters and the 4 x 400 - meter relay world records that have valid today. The achieved with the 4 x 400 - meter relay team on 22 July 1998 in Uniondale was canceled on 12 August 2008, after the subscriber Antonio Pettigrew had admitted taking growth hormones and EPO.

  • A = performance achieved at high altitude.


  • 2004: Inclusion in the United States Track and Field Hall of Fame
  • 2012: Inclusion in the IAAF Hall of Fame