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10 Questions

American Track and Field star Michael Johnson

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Latest: Monday September 25, 2000 01:04 PM

Michael Johnson won two gold medals in the 1996 Games, becoming the first man in history to medal in both the 200 and 400. Johnson failed to qualify for the 200 in Sydney, but will compete in the 400.

1. You suffered several injuries in the trials, how will that affect you in Sydney?

The Achilles is something that has always bothered me and every year it is something that doesn't get worse or doesn't get better until the season is over. It is not something that keeps me from running. It is something we have to stay on top of it

2. Which competitor are you focused on in the 400?

I don't know who is going to be in the final. We don't know until we get there. That's what the Olympics is all about. Once you get into that final anything can happen. You never know. From the here to the final you have to go out every day and make it to the next round and then worry about those other things when you get to the final.

3. Do you believe Marion Jones has bitten off too much?

I think that an athlete you have to understand -- and it may be hard for a lot of people to understand -- what Marion is trying to do. But most athletes understand what she is trying to do. You know you are capable in your mind of winning every event that you compete in, you want to go out there and do that. I think that she will be disappointed if she had decided, coming in here, that I am not going to do one of my events. I think she felt like she would be disappointed sitting on the sidelines watching the events she was to go in.

4. What advice would you give Cathy Freeman, who is a big favorite, competing in a hometown and home country in a 400 meter race?

You know, for me there was a lot of pressure in the US in '96 and I just tried to stay focused on what I was doing by again surrounding myself with people who understood what I was trying to achieve and who understood what I needed in order to be ready to go out there and be at my best and I have a very good support group and I think that's what she has done. I think Cathy has done a fantastic job of keeping herself focused on what she has to do throughout all of the fanfare and being the star of these Games, leading up to them and I have all confidence she will be able to go out there and compete and be ready to go when it is time.

5. Is there a part of you that wishes that you could defend your title to the 200?

No, not really. I am very happy with my situation. I am very happy to be here running the 400 and only running the 400 and the relay. I have done the 200, I have done the 400. I wouldn't want to not be here but if I had to choose an event to be here it would be the 400 meters. I am happy to be here without all of the pressure of running the 400 meter and then going back and doubling to the 200 meter.

6. Does history motivate you in terms of becoming the first man to double in the 400?

That is certainly part of the reason why I am here, and something that I think will be very important to the end of my career. And again, I have always been motivated by making history, and that is just one other thing that I will hopefully be able to add to the list of things that I was the first to do. So that is definitely a part of my motivation.

7. How have the medals from '96 changed your life?

Definitely it has had a financial impact, on a positive side. But it brings along with that also a lot of responsibility and a lot of pressure and pretty much a lot of everything that was already there. More of everything. More money, more pressure. More expectation. More time constraints, more appearances, more everything. So I have had to just basically manage that and had to really keep things up to perspective as to what is really important and what is really important is my career and going out there and running fast. Fortunately, I have been able to maintain that.

8. Who is your pick in the men's 200?

That is tough. You know, I think that Ato Boldon says he doesn't want to be the favorite and that he is not the favorite. If you are favorite you have to take the role and run with it. The fact that he didn't want to be the favorite, that says a little about how confident he might be. It might be a strategy, I don't know. John Capel has been a mystery. The person I would be most afraid of to run the 200 is Floyd Herb, because of the unknown. He hasn't been running since the trials and he ran 19.8 at the trials.

9. Your goal is to break the 43-second barrier in the 400. When do you think this will happen?

Well, I don't know when it is going to come but I am running out of time, so as soon as possible, I hope. For me I always perform best at the big championships, the world championships, the Olympic Games. All of my world records have come at world championships or Olympics or major championships. If the weather cooperates there may be the opportunity to break 43 seconds. I think I am in shape to do it right now. It takes more than that. Hopefully that can happen.

10. What's your strategy for advancing to the 400 final?

Same way I have done in the last ten years. Whatever they will let me get away with each round that is how I will take it. I just want to advance to the next round. I am not going to take any chances though. I am going to go out there. I am in good enough shape that I can go out there and not have to really -- I don't have to pull back too much


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