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With some work, Johnson backs American trio to test his 200m WR

6 August 2007

World 200-metre record holder Michael Johnson is backing American trio Tyson Gay, Xavier Carter and Wallace Spearmon to put a strong challenge on his world mark of 19.32, as they progress in their careers.

Johnson, who retired in 2001, five-years after breaking the world record at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996 and he believes the sprinters will have their hands in their quest the American legend has not ruled out the possibilities.

“I feel it (200m) can certainly be broken and its possible Tyson Gay (19.62), Wallace Spearmon (19.65) or Xavier Carter (19.63) could break it. But the only one that is consistent right now in that 19.6 range is Tyson,” Johnson said in an exclusive interview with Track and Field News Monday.

Johnson removed Italy’s Pietro Mennea from 19.72 to 19.66 at the USA trials before shattering the mark with a solo run of 19.32 in his golden spikes in the Olympic Stadium in Atlanta, but though he is of the view the world mark can be broken, he doesn’t see the performance being smashed by such a huge margin right now.

“It was broken by so much and we probably won’t ever see it broken by that much again,” Johnson said in the interview.

“You have to keep in mind that 3 tenths of a second is a very long way and most people will never take that much off their PR in the 200 over their entire career after they’ve reached world class.”

Johnson, who also owns the world record in the 400m, also said the man who trains the hardest and has the better understanding of running the race will be the one. He doesn’t necessarily have to be a 200/400 sprinter, though he considers them as the likely ones.

“Wallace and Xavier are both 200/400 and Tyson is 100/200 and all three are great,” Johnson said, noting that “It could be either.”

“I would have leaned more toward 200/400 but not because those guys have a better chance but because most 100/200 guys look at the 200 as secondary and don’t add the speed endurance component to their training that’s needed for the 200.”

Johnson also thinks the trio still has a lot to change before they can actually trouble his impressive world best.

“It’s different for each one,” he said when asked how the sprinters can develop.

“Tyson needs speed endurance work. Spearmon needs a major overhaul of his race strategy. Carter needs to clean up his technique. Those are starts but I don’t know any of their training programs.

Another athlete mentioned in the elite group is Jamaica’s World Junior record holder, Usain Bolt, who recently broke the great Donald Quarrie’s national record to 19.75 at his national championships in Kingston, in June.

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