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Michael Duane Johnson

Michael Duane Johnson

Michael Duane Johnson is an American professional athlete, specialising in sprint running. He was born on 13th September 1967 in Dallas, United States.

Johnson’s father was a truck driver and his mother was a teacher. Johnson released an autobiography called ‘Slaying The Dragon’ where he told of how his mother and father had brought Johnson and his siblings up. His brothers and sisters became a teacher, a school counsellor, a systems analyst, and a special agent for US Department of Defence.

Michael Johnson attended Skyline High School, and later Baylor University in Waco. At Baylor University Johnson trained as a runner under coach Clyde Hart. During that time he won various NCAA titles for indoor and outdoor sprint races. He also broke the record for his school of the 200 metre race in his first ever competitive run, running it in a time of 20.41. In the 4 x 400 metre relays he ran in a time of 43.5 for one section of the race. Johnson is nicknamed 'The Duck' because he runs upright, and 'Superman' because of his outstanding achievements.

He wanted to enter into the Seoul Olympics of 1988, however he was unable to do so due to an injury at the beginning of the trials. He didn’t manage to qualify for the 400 metres and withdrew from the 200 metre race. The following year though, he snatched 2nd place at the USA Indoor Championship, and runner up at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 4 x 400, running in a fantastic time of 43.8. He also won a 200 metre race in an American, setting a record with his time of 20.59.

In 1990, Johnson graduated from Baylor University, and left with a bachelor’s degree in Business Studies. At that time he was the first ever to hold the top spot in both the 200 metre and 400 metre races. The following year he ran the 200 metre race in Tokyo where he won the world title. The 1992 Summer Olympics were coming up when both Johnson and his agent got food poisoning while eating in Spain, so Johnson became weak. He was the favourite with the bookmakers to win, but because he had been ill he only made 6th place at the semis, and didn’t make it into the finals for the 200 metre races.

One of the most brilliant achievements of Johnson was the 1996 US Olympic trials, where he ran the 200 metres in 19.66 seconds breaking the world record that had been held by Pietro Mennea for almost two decades. He qualified for the Olympics of course, and in the 400 metre race he came first winning gold and breaking the Olympic record with a time of 43.49 seconds. Then in the 200 metre race he took gold again, making another world record with his 19.32 second time.

Johnson has been nicknamed ‘The Man with the Golden Shoes’ since the Olympics in Atlanta, as he ran wearing a pair of golden Nike running shoes.

Johnson was one of the Olympic torch bearers in the relay in the run up to the London 2012 Olympics, carrying it to Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral in Wiltshire.

Career Highlights

  • 1992 Barcelona Olympics – Gold
  • 1996 Atlanta Olympics – Gold (2)
  • 2000 Sydney Olympics – Gold

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