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Michael Johnson

American athlete Michael Duane Johnson was born on September 13, 1967. He won five Olympic gold medals and was a world champion nine times.

Born in Dallas, Texas, he was the first man to win the 200 and 400 meters at the same Olympics, accomplishing the feat in 1996. (Two women have done the same: Valerie Brisco-Hooks in 1984 and Marie-Jose; Perec in 1996.) A 1990 graduate of Baylor University, Johnson won a number of medals at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships during his collegiate career.

Johnson's breakthrough onto the world stage came in 1991 when Johnson won the World Championship 200m title in Tokyo. At the 1992 Summer Olympics Johnson failed to qualify to the 200m final, but won a gold as a member of the 4 x 400m relay team, which broke the world record (2:55.74).

After the disappointment of failing to make the final in his individual event at Barcelona, Johnson won 400m at the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart. He won his second gold in the 4 x 400m relay race with a new world record (2:54.29).

In the next World Championships at Gothenburg Johnson did his first "double" in a major tournaments. He won both 200m and 400m and in addition to that received another gold as a member of a relay team.

The next year Johnson finally broke the 200m world record when he ran 19.66 s at the USA National Championships. With that performance he qualified to run at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and prepared himself to attempt the "impossible" — to win both titles, something no one had ever achieved. On July 29 he easily captured the 400m title in 43.49 s, beating Roger Black of Great Britain by almost a second. At the 200m final on August 1, Johnson ran the opening 100 m in 10.12 s and finished the race in 19.32 s, a new world record. He reached a maximum speed of 37 km/h.

This was the largest improvement ever on a world 200m record. Commentators compared the performance to Bob Beamon's 1968 long jump in Mexico.

In June of 1997, he raced against Canada's Donovan Bailey in a 150m race at Toronto's Roger's Centre, in a bid to truly determine who was the world's fastest man. Bailey won $1.5 million for winning that race, in which Michael Johnson pulled out of at the 100m with a pulled quadricep. He overcame the injury, and the same year he managed to win his third 400m World Champion title. In 1998 injury again struck and his next season was troubled with two injury scares curtailing his 400m races to just four before the World Championships in Seville. Had it not been for the IAAF's policy of allowing defending champions automatic entry, he would not have been in Seville because he failed to compete in the USA trials when he was injured. But he recovered and won his fourth 400m World Champion title with a new world record of 43.18 s. He later ran the last leg of the 4 x 400m relay team, adding a ninth World Championship gold medal to his collection.

Johnson ended his career at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney by winning 400m and 4 x 400 relay race, bringing his total of Olympic golds to five.

Johnson has run 22 400-meter races under 44 seconds. In the 200m, he has six times under 19.80s and 17 sub-20 second performances. He also holds the world record at 300m — 30.85s. The former record was 31.48s.

Michael Johnson was one of the most eminent figures in athletics in the 1990s. For much of the decade he was virtually unbeaten in the long sprints. Since retiring from competitive sport, he has acted as a TV athletics pundit.



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