Four times Olympic gold medal-winner, Michael Johnson is widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time. Considered to be one of the greatest sprinters in the history of track and field, Johnson is known for his consistent ability to perform under pressure. Nicknamed, ‘The Man With the Golden Shoes’, Michael Johnson was also given the title of ‘the world's fastest man’. This sprinting legend is the 400m and 200m world record holder and also Olympic record holder and has won eight World Championships gold medals. His intense focus and his psychological approach has been one of the key factors that have led to his success. He is also one of the only male athletes in sports history to win both the 200 meters and 400 meters at the same Olympics game. After his official retirement as a sprinter, Johnson has successfully established himself as a performance coach and trainer, who diligently works with young Olympic athletes. He is currently a BBC commentator and offers his expert views during its athletics coverage. He is also a proficient sports columnist. To learn more interesting facts about his personal life and professional achievements, scroll down and continue to read this biography.
Childhood & Early Life
Michael Duane Johnson was born in Dallas, Texas to Ruby Johnson, a truck driver and Ruby Johnson, a school teacher.
He attended the Skyline High School in Pleasant Grove, Dallas, where he broke the school record for the 200 metre run and the 4X400 metre relay.
At the age of ten, he began running and later he won several titles for indoor and outdoor sprints and relays at Baylor University.
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In 1988, he applied to enter the Summer Olympics in Seoul, but he could not participate due to a stress fracture.
In 1989, he won the second position at the USA Indoor Championship and was the runner-up of the NCAA Outdoor Championship.
In 1990, he completed his bachelor’s degree from the Baylor University and at the same time, held the number one world ranking in both the 200m and the 400m sprinting.
In 1991, he earned the world 200m title in Tokyo and created a record by winning by the largest margin since Jesse Owens won the event in the 1936 Summer Olympics.
In 1993, he won the 400m U.S. title and subsequently won the gold in 400m and 4X400m relay in 4th World Championships in Athletics, held in Stuttgart, Germany.
In the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg, he won the 200m and 400m ‘double’, a feat that no other male track athlete has achieved in a major tournament during the 20th century.
In 1996, at the U.S. Olympic Trials, he created a record when he ran the 200m in 19.66 seconds. This beat Pietro Mennea's record and Johnson’s record stood strong for 17 years.
On July 29, 1996, he won the Olympic title with an Olympic Record timing of 43.49 seconds and that same year he also created world record after he finished the 200m race in 19.32 seconds.
In 1997, he appeared in the Nike television commercial, in which he was named ‘the world's fastest man’.
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In June 1997, he competed for the title of ‘the world's fastest man’ and raced against Donovan Bailey on a 150-metre track at the SkyDome in Toronto. He lost the race, but the same year he won the 400 m in the 6th World Championship in Athletics, held in Athens.
In 1998, he set a world record of ‘2:54.20’ at the Goodwill Games in New York, along with his 4x400m relay team which included Jerome Young, Antonio Pettigrew, and Tyree Washington.
He took retirement after winning the gold medal in the 400m race at the 2000 Summer Olympics. At that time, he became the oldest gold medallist at any track event which was shorter than 5000m in Olympic history.
In 2007, he founded the athletic training facility ‘Michael Johnson Performance’, that trains young athletes and he also owns a sports management company, ‘Ultimate Performance’.
He currently works as a sports commentator and regularly appears as a commentator for the BBC in U.K. He is also a columnist for the ‘Daily Telegraph’.
Awards & Achievements
In 1996, he was the recipient of the James E. Sullivan Award as the ‘top amateur athlete in any sport in the U.S’.
In 1996, he was conferred the title of ‘ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year’.
In 2004, he was inducted into the ‘United States Track and Field Hall of Fame’.
He was the torch bearer in the run up to the London 2012 Olympics.
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Personal Life & Legacy
In 1998, he married Kerry Doyen, an entertainment reporter and the couple had a child together.
He currently lives in Marin County, California with his second wife, Armine Shamiryan, and his son Sebastian from the first marriage.
This record breaking American sprinter voluntarily returned his 4x400m relay Olympic gold medal won in 2000 Sydney Olympics because he felt it was not a fair win, as his team mates who ran the race with him took performance enhancing drugs.
Top 10 Facts You Did Not Know About Michael Johnson
Considered one of the greatest and most consistent sprinters in the history of track and field, Michael Johnson holds the world and Olympic records in the 400 m.
When he won both the 200 m dash and 400 m dash events at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, he became the only male athlete in history to win both the events at the same Olympics.
He currently holds the world record for the 400 metres, 4 by 400 metre relay, and 300 metres.
Michael Johnson has the distinction of being the sport’s first multimedia superstar.
As a child he was often ridiculed for “running funny”.
He is a control freak and makes his wife work out in the gym every day—something she absolutely dislikes!
He is known to be a big-time wine buff and has a bar with a wine refrigerator in the living room.
His childhood ambition was to become an architect, not an athlete.
Johnson was a contestant on NBC's 9th season of ‘The Celebrity Apprentice’ (2010).
He is a big admirer of Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt who shattered Johnson’s 200 m record by 0.01 of a second at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.