SPEED TO BURN: Kale Johnson eats up the ground
in the 200 metres.
Sprint star in the making
By NEIL RATLEY
22 Sep, 2011
"YOUR adrenaline is pumping, your heart is racing and when the gun goes off everything just becomes a blur and you put everything in so when you reach the finish line you have nothing left," Kale Johnson said.
The 100 metre sprint is probably the most famous and awe inspiring event in athletics and the world's fastest man, Usian Bolt, who covers the distance in 9.58 seconds, is revered across the globe for his exploits.
However, a softly spoken and relatively anonymous Mount Isa sprinter is looking to make his mark in the world of the speed kings.
If Kale 'The Black Flash' Johnson was on the starting block next to Bolt he would finish about one second behind the quickest man on the planet.
"My fastest time over 100m is 10.80 seconds," the 22-year-old Johnson answered when he was asked for his personal best time.
In a world where split seconds are crucial, a full second is still a little off the pace but when put into context Johnson's achievement is something to cheer about.
Today's elite athletes spend hours each day training under the watchful eye of coaches while being monitored with the most modern equipment on the planet.
For Johnson, his training regime at present is a bike ride every second day for fitness broken up by sprinting up the Pamela Street hill for muscle work.
"I am only really getting back into athletics after a few years away from the track," he said.
"During my early years at high school in Bundaberg, I was really into athletics and my coaches were encouraging me to pursue my sprinting career.
"However, I ended up playing touch football and concentrated on making it to representative levels in the sport."
Johnson's natural speed made him an asset to the team but as his interest in touch football increased his track and field career was put aside.
"I suppose I really enjoyed being part of a team and touch football was a much more social environment," he said.
Perhaps it's ironic then that after a break from sprinting, it's the individual nature of the sport that is drawing Johnson back to the track.
"While there can be a team environment as an athletics squad, when it comes time to getting from the starting line to the finishing line it's only up to you," he said.
"It's a completely different kind of challenge to playing in a team."
After high school, Johnson met his partner Cathy and not long after they started a family.
"Once my daughter came along, my priorities became my family and supporting them so there wasn't much time for anything else," Johnson smiled.
Six months ago, the opportunity arose for Johnson to bring his young family out to Mount Isa when he was offered a job with The Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health (MICRRH) unit and now with the support of his family and his work Johnson is looking to get his athletics career back on track.
"Things have worked out really well since I arrived in Mount Isa," he said.
"My job with MICRRH has been fantastic and from the start they were happy to allow me to possibly get back into sprinting and my partner is the one pushing me out of the house to train on the days I don't feel like it."
Johnson also said as soon as he settled in Mount Isa he got in touch with the Mount Isa Athletics Club and signed up.
"He was quick. Very, very quick," Mount Isa Athletics Club coach David Scott said after Johnson's first hit out.
"Kale [Johnson] was the fastest person we had seen at the club and we all knew right away what a talented athlete he was."
Johnson said now that he had decided to chase his dream of making it to the top of a very competitive sport he was looking forward to putting in the hard yards.
"I know it won't be easy but it is something I really want to give my all and see just how far I can get," he said.
With natural ability already pushing Johnson under the 11-second mark it is scary to think what the talented athlete may be able to achieve with a sustained training regime.
Scott said not many men have broken the 10-second barrier so for Johnson to be able to record his sub 11 second time indicated he had a lot of potential.
"I think there is every chance Kale [Johnson] can reach the top if he applies himself and does the large amount of hard work that will be needed," the coach said.
In his short comeback to the track, Johnson has already begun to win over some new fans.
North Queensland Sports Foundation manager Col Kenna who witnessed Johnson's first competitive meeting since his high school days at the Xstrata Great Western Games said a new star may have been unearthed.
"Kale [Johnson] recorded a sizzling 23.38 seconds for the 200m out there [Mount Isa] on a grass track from a standing start," he said.
"Athletics North Queensland will be watching to see how Kale runs in Townsville this weekend in the ANQ Allcomers Championships and we are very keen to see how he goes on a tartan (synthetic) track with some coaching under his belt."
Johnson said he was also excited about running on the tartan surface.
"This will be the first time I have ever run on an artificial surface and hopefully it will allow me to push for a new personal best in both the 100m and the 200m," he said.
When asked about his favoured event, Johnson said he enjoyed the challenges both the 100m and 200m events presented but if he had to choose it would be the 200 metres.
With a personal best of 21.9 seconds under his belt over 200m, Johnson has already shown he is hovering around a time good enough to qualify for the Australian National Championships for his age.
All athletes have dreams and Johnson said his was getting to the 2016 Olympic Games.
"I know that is a long long way off but you have to have goals and I now know what mine are and with a lot of hard work, the support of my family, coaches, work and the community I can give it a real shot," he said.
Working in Indigenous health, Johnson also said he hoped his exploits would help inspire the next generation of Indigenous Australians to reach for their goals and lead happy and healthy lives.
Johnson is only now starting on the long road to achieving his dream but he said he wanted to see how far could go and how fast he could get there.