Michael Johnson: The Best Runner Ever

Ben WeixlmannSenior Writer IMay 31, 2008

The idea for this article first came to my mind when I was thinking about how I don't really care for the Olympics anymore. I'm all for the athletes who are just ordinary people that work incredibly hard for four years to compete in the world's most-recognized event.

I have, however, lost interest in the Olympics, because I feel as though those who competed 10 years ago were much more fun to watch and more athletic than those now-a-days.

For example, the USA has always dominated track and field events. It has always been a surprise to me how track and field created such a large buzz for the Olympics, but any other time in those four years it is at best a secondary sport.Β  Now, some of the best athletes ever to grace the 400-meter track, such as Michael Johnson, Carl Lewis, and Hicham El Guerrouj, are all retired.Β 

Michael Johnson in particular was a hero for Americans, and his performance in the 1996 Olympics on American soil in Atlanta was nothing short of incredible.Β  Johnson set the world record in both the 200- and 400-meter races, in style.

If someone were to ask me who my favorite Olympic athlete was a decade ago, it would be Johnson by a mile. Now, however, I simply don't care. I saw Tyson Gay, an American and the top-ranked sprinter in the world, run at the World Championships a couple months ago, but it didn't seem to stick with me when he won.

Everyone who tunes into the Olympics, whether they be casual sports fans or the mothers who tune in because they like watching the "Opening Ceremonies" remembers Johnson's gold shoes. His heroic status reached its peak when he threw those shoes into the stands. That image will live with American sports fans forever when the Summer Olympics are mentioned.

But a guy who runs 19.32 in the 200, and 43.49 in the 400 is super-human.Β  Mind you, his world-record-winning 200 time, when averaged out over 100-meter intervals, would break the 100-meter record as well. Additionally, in a sport where a half-a-second victory is enormous, Johnson defeated second-place Roger Black in the 400 by over a second.

There will never be another Michael Johnson. From now on, we will have to resort to watching the United States crush all other countries in basketball as our primary excitement.

I'm sorry if I sound unpatriotic for not liking the Olympics anymore, but when compared to the glory days of Johnson and others, it's just not what it used to be.


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