Johnson moves quickly after retirement from track
August 12, 2010 9:07 PM
Ten years removed from the world track and field stage, four-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson seems to enjoy a little bit of anonymity.
“I’m starting to have to tell people what I did,” Johnson said. “I used to assume they knew what I did. I have a son in fifth grade, and when I went to his school, they all asked who I was and what I did.”
Johnson, 42, arguably the best 200- and 400-meter sprinter in the history of the sport and still a huge name in the industry, hasn’t slowed down much since defending his 400 gold in Sydney in 2000. Today, the Dallas native who lives in San Francisco wears a variety of hats, from television analyst to newspaper columnist to motivational speaker.
His latest endeavor, Michael Johnson Performance, helps Johnson pass his expertise and desire to win to the next generation. He served as the keynote speaker Thursday for Dartfish, a state-of-the-art training tool, at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, and spoke of the phenomenal advances in video technology that Johnson never saw possible.
“It wasn’t that long ago, but we had homemade technology,” Johnson said. “Pause, start and pause, start. Technology wasn’t what it was today. The sky’s the limit for what might come next. Technology is a big part of life now.”
Such video technology certainly would have had its say about Johnson’s unique, upright running style that was criticized by most. That is, until winning gold on the 400-meter relay team in Barcelona in 1992 and, four years later, becoming the only athlete to win the 200 and 400 at the same Olympics.
His overall medal count would have been five, but the 400 relay team that won gold in Sydney was disqualified by the International Olympic Committee after Antonio Pettigrew, who ran the second leg, admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs for a four-year period before and after Sydney.
On Tuesday, Pettigrew was found dead in his car in North Carolina, possibly taking his own life.
“It’s a very sad story,” Johnson said. “Obviously, he had some demons. I don’t know what else to say. I can’t speak for what he was going through. He made that decision. Like in doping, it’s an individual thing. Everyone makes decisions for their own individual reasons.”