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Michael Johnson

Waylaid By Illness In 1992

Looking ahead to the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Johnson planned to compete in both the 200- and 400-meter sprints. On the basis of Johnson's record during his first two years of professional competition, he looked like a likely winner in both events. Traveling to Spain in advance of the Olympics, he ate some tainted ham and developed a severe case of food poisoning. By the time his events rolled around, he had shaken off the symptoms of the illness but remained weakened. As a result, he failed to qualify for the finals in either event, although he did win a gold medal as a member of the U.S. 4×400 relay team that set a new world record time of two minutes, 55.74 seconds. Bitterly disappointed by the failure to qualify for his two main individual events, Johnson vowed to soldier on toward Atlanta.

As a short-range goal, Johnson set his sights on winning the 400-meter sprint at the 1993 IAAF World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. In a series of qualifying races leading up to Stuttgart, he blew away the competition. At the USA/Mobil Track and Field Championships, Johnson, facing off against such keen competitors as world record holder Butch Reynolds and 1992 Olympic gold medalist Quincy Watts, won the race in a personal record time of 43.74 seconds. He followed up this win with victories at major competitions in Oslo, Gateshead, and Zurich. At Stuttgart, Johnson, the favorite, won the 400 sprint with a championship record time of 43.65 seconds. At the 1994 Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg, Russia, Johnson took the gold medal in the 400-meter sprint, and for the year as a whole he won all of his 400-meter events. In 1995, he became the first athlete in history to win both the 200- and 400-meter sprints at the U.S. National Championships. Not long thereafter, Johnson was the first man ever to win the world title in both events.

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Famous Sports StarsTrack and FieldMichael Johnson Biography - Born In Dallas, Runs Track For Baylor, Waylaid By Illness In 1992, Wins Both Events At Atlanta - SELECTED WRITINGS BY JOHNSON: