MJ
Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

After establishing himself in the United States, Johnson went on to dominate the international track scene, winning his first World Championship for the 200m in Tokyo in 1991. He also became the first athlete ever to be ranked No. 1 in both the 200 and 400 meter races. With high hopes, he blazed through the 1992 Olympic Trials by breaking Carl Lewis' record for the 200m, which he had held since 1984. But once he reached Barcelona for the Olympics, Johnson was stricken with food poisoning, which led to a loss of both body weight and strength. A favorite to with the 200, he came in sixth place during the semifinal heat and failed to make the final race. He did, however, earn a gold medal as a member of the 4x400 meter relay team, which set a new world record with Johnson running the third leg in less than 45 seconds.The following year, Johnson returned to top form with the fastest 400 meters on U.S. soil during the 1993 USA Track and Field Championships. He followed up with World Championship wins for both the 400m race and 4x400 relay at Stuttgart that same year. In 1994, he won all of his 400m races and repeated his Gold Medal winning performance at the Goodwill Games, this time held in St. Petersburg, Russia. After being given the first of three consecutive Jesse Owens Awards, Johnson continued to embarrass the competition in 1995 by becoming the first athlete since 1899 to win titles for both the 200m and 400m races at the U.S. National Championships. He capped a successful year with three gold medals at the World Championships in Gothenburg, winning the 200m, 400m and 4x400m relay races. The stage was undeniably set for greatness at the 1996 Olympic Games, held for the first time since 1984 in the United States.Wearing a pair of gold shoes custom-designed by Nike, Johnson entered the Olympics in Atlanta an overwhelming favorite, and the world's fastest man failed to disappoint. With his patented upright running style, he won the first of two gold medals when he set the Olympic Record of 43.49 for the 400 meter race, blowing away the silver medalist by a full second. Johnson proceeded to make Olympic history with his next race, the 200 meters. Having already broken Pietro Mennea's 17-year-old record for the 200m in the Olympic Trials, Johnson shattered his own record by three-tenths of a second to win his second gold medal and becoming the first male athlete to win both the 200m and 400m races at the same Games. An instant celebrity, Johnson racked up numerous endorsement deals, including his image on a box of Wheaties, while he was named ABC's "Wide World of Sports" Athlete of the Year.Johnson maintained his high performance level with a gold medal in the 400m race at the Athens World Championships in 1997, then anchored the 4x400m relay team to set the world record at the 1998 Goodwill Games in New York. Though injured for some of 1999, he still managed to win his eighth gold medal at the World Championships, setting a world record of 43.18 in the 400 meters. At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, Johnson became the only male athlete in Olympic history to win consecutive gold medals in the 400 m race. He won a second gold as a part of the 4x400m relay, bringing his total Olympic gold medals to five. Following the Games, Johnson retired and left behind an impressive resume that included 19 championship gold medals and zero bronze or silver.Since his retirement, Johnson established himself as a successful corporate motivational speaker for such companies as Microsoft, Proctor and Gamble, and Sony. He also ventured into sports commentary, working for BBC sports while writing a column for the Daily Telegraph. Taking his successful approach to running track to other athletes, Johnson started a sports consulting company that worked with everyone from the Chinese Athletic Association to NFL players. Johnson expanded his business prowess to include several real estate development projects, and a natural energy snack food and beverage company. In 2008, he voluntarily gave back his gold medal from the 2000 4x400 relay in Sydney after his three teammates either admitted to or tested positive for taking performance enhancing drugs. Johnson was never implicated and felt winning the medal was unfair. Meanwhile, he was poised to put his business acumen to the test on the ninth season of "The Apprentice" (NBC, 2004- ), featuring Cyndi Lauper, Sinbad, Darryl Strawberry and Bret Michaels.
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