Wins Both Events At Atlanta
Johnson was primed and ready when the Atlanta Summer Olympic Games opened in July 1996. He raced to victory in the 400-meter sprint with a new Olympic record time of 43.49 seconds. Only three days later, he set a new world record time of 19.32 seconds in winning the 200-meter sprint. The victories were particularly sweet for Johnson, who four years earlier had been waylaid by illness on his race for gold in the same events at Barcelona. Never before had a man won gold in both events at the same Olympics. (The only woman to win gold in both the 200- and 400-meter sprints was Valerie Brisco-Hooks, who accomplished the feat at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles.) Of his remarkable performance, Johnson told the Olympian: "I've always wanted to bring the two events together in a way that nobody else had ever done; this sums up what my career is about." In a bold display of confidence, Johnson ran both events in gold-colored running shoes and sported a thick gold chain around his neck.
Shortly after his impressive win at Atlanta, Johnson published a motivational book titled Slaying the Dragon: How to Turn Your Small Steps to Great Feats, and toured extensively in late 1996 to promote it. In recognition of Johnson's accomplishment in winning both the 200- and 400-meter sprints, the U.S. Olympic Committee named Johnson Sportsman of the Year for 1996, an honor he'd previously won in both 1993 and 1995. The IAAF named him Legend Athlete of the Year for 1996, and the Amateur Athletic Union gave him its 76th annual James E. Sullivan Memorial Award. Things also improved financially for Johnson when he was signed by Nike to a six-year, $12 million endorsement deal.