only sprinter in history to be ranked Number 1 in
both the 200- and 400-meter events in one year
Michael Duane Johnson was born
in Dallas, Texas, on September 13, 1967. He grew
up in Dallas, graduated from Skyline High School,
and then stayed in Texas to attend Baylor
University, where he began his extraordinary
Johnson ran for Baylor from
1987 through 1990, and still holds or is part of
six school records. His coach, Clyde Hart,
convinced him to concentrate on the 200-meter and
400-meter races in order to make him an even
better part of the school's 4x400-meter relay
team. The strategy worked, for Johnson broke the
school record for the 200-meter in his very first
race, with a time of 20.41, and ran his leg of
the 4x400-meter relay in 43.5 seconds.
Johnson had hoped to compete in
the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, but a stress
fracture of his left fibula prevented him from
making the trials.
At the 1989 NCAA Indoor
Championships, Johnson set a record time of 20.59
to win the 200-meter title. At the Outdoor
Championships that same year, he set school
records in the 100- and 200-meter, and helped
Baylor to a second-place finish in the
In 1990, Johnson won two NCAA
titles in the 200-meter -- one for indoor
competition and the other for outdoor. He also
anchored Baylor's title-winning 4x400-meter relay
teams in both indoor and outdoor competition.
Johnson graduated with a
Bachelor's degree in business, and then took his
amazing speed to the professional circuit.
Johnson won thirteen
consecutive 200-meter races in his first season
as a professional, and set six of the fastest
200-meter times recorded for 1990, so it was no
surprise that he was ranked No. 1 in the
200-meter by the end of the season. It was,
however, a surprise that he was also ranked No. 1
in the 400-meter, which made him the first
sprinter ever to be ranked No. 1 in both events
in one season. He would go on to accomplish this
feat a total of four times in his career.
At the World Championships in
Tokyo, Johnson took the gold in the 200-meter
with a margin of .33 seconds over Frankie
Fredericks, the largest margin of victory in the
event since Jesse Owens
won the gold at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
Johnson ended the 1991 season
once again ranked No. 1 in both the 200- and
At the U.S. Olympic Trials,
Johnson set a trials record of 19.79 seconds in
the 200-meter. Unfortunately, a bout with food
poisoning prevented him from competing for an
individual medal at the Olympic Games in
Barcelona, Spain, but he did get a gold medal as
anchor of the 4x400-meter relay team, which also
set a world record on its way to the win.
Johnson took the 400-meter
title at the U.S. National Championships in
Eugene, Oregon, and then went on to score some
impressive wins at the World Championships in
Stuttgart, Germany. There, he took the gold in
the 400-meter with a personal best time of 43.74
seconds (which also happened to be the fastest
time ever run in this event on American soil). He
then ran what was probably the fastest ever leg
of a 4x400-meter relay (42.94 seconds), which
helped the team set a world record of 2:54.29 and
capture the gold medal.
Johnson won every 400-meter
race he ran this year, including a gold
medal-winning race at the Goodwill Games in St.
Petersburg, Russia. For the third time in his
career, he ended the season ranked No. 1 in both
the 200- and 400-meter events.
At the U.S. National
Championships in Sacramento, California, Johnson
won all six of his races, and became the first
sprinter since 1899 to win both the 200- and
400-meter U.S. Championships in the same year. He
also became the first ever to run both the
200-meter in under 20 seconds and the 400-meter
in under 44 seconds in the same meet.
At the World Championships in
Goteborg, Sweden, he set a record by running nine
races over nine days. In so doing, he also became
the first sprinter ever to win gold medals in
both the 200- and 400-meter events at the World
Championships in the same year. He also won a
gold medal as part of the 4x400-meter relay team.
By the end of the season
Johnson had compiled 50 consecutive victories in
the 400-meter. He also claimed No. 1 rankings in
both events for the last time in his career.
At the Olympic Trials, Johnson
broke a 17-year record for the 200-meter with a
time of 19.66 seconds. He then beat his own
record at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia,
by running the 200-meter in 19.32 seconds. He
also set a new Olympic record for the 400-meter
with a time of 43.49 seconds, making him the
first sprinter ever to win both events in one
book Slaying the Dragon: How to Turn Your
Small Steps to Great Feats was published
soon after his Olympics accomplishments.
Injuries kept Johnson from
participating in the U.S. National Championships,
but not from successfully defending his 400-meter
title at the World Championships in Athens,
Johnson earned a No. 1 ranking
in the 400-meter when he anchored the 4x400-meter
relay team that set a new world record at the
Goodwill Games in New York.
At the World Championships in
Seville, Spain, Johnson broke his own 400-meter
record, with a time of 43.18 seconds, as well as
a new record for the largest margin of victory in
that event. He ended the Championships with two
gold medals, giving him a total of nine World
Championship golds over his career, surpassing
Carl Lewis on the all-time leader board.
Johnson took the gold in the
400-meter at the Sydney Olympics, making him the
first ever Olympian to win consecutive golds in
this event. He also secured yet another gold
medal for anchoring the 4x400-meter relay team.
Johnson retired from
competition following the 2000 season. He now
lives in Mill Valley, California, with his wife,
Kerry, and son, Sebastian. Far from idle, he
spends his time running a sports consulting
company, doing television commentary, writing a
regular newspaper column, acting as agent for
several track stars, and giving motivational
speeches at and for various corporations.
Baylor Official Athletic Site baylorbears.cstv.com/sports/c-track/mtt/johnson_michael00.html
Michael Johnson Motivation www.michaeljohnsonmotivation.com
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