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The Big Event // JOHNSON GOES FOR THE DOUBLE

WHAT: The men's 200 meters.

WHEN: Semifinals scheduled for 6:10 p.m.; final at 9.

ABOUT THE RACE: The 200 (or a half lap) is intrinsically different from the 400, which Michael Johnson won handily Monday night. It is much easier for a sprinter to do the traditional 100/200 double because training methods are similar. The 400 requires a great deal of endurance; whereas the 100 and 200 are tests of all-out speed.

There is less room for error in the 200 than in the 400. There is no time for athletes to pace themselves, and a fast start is necessary.

RACE FOR HISTORY: No man has won the 200 and 400 in the same Olympics. Valerie Brisco-Hooks, however, did it in 1984. And France's Marie-Jose Perec, winner of the women's 400 on Monday, is going for the same double tonight (with considerably less fanfare).

JOHNSON'S CHANCES: Though he broke the world record in the 200 this year on the same track, Johnson probably is most vulnerable in this event.

The 400 is Johnson's better race, because he does not have the pure speed of a Frankie Fredericks, Linford Christie or Mike Marsh. Nor is he extremely quick out of the blocks.

He needs to be quicker and more aggressive for the 200. Johnson said coach Clyde Hart helps him a great deal in adjusting his focus from one race to the other.

Johnson has been training for the double for years. He wins races by being methodical and refusing to make mistakes.

THE COMPETITION: Will Fredericks beat Johnson again, or will he collect another Olympic silver medal?

Fredericks of Namibia won silver in the 100 and 200 in 1992 and again in the 100 on Saturday. He is seen as Johnson's biggest threat _ Fredericks beat Johnson on July 5, ending his streak of 21 consecutive victories in 200 finals. Johnson had a poor start in that race.

The two have been rivals for years. They competed in college when Fredericks was at Brigham Young and Johnson at Baylor, and in 1992 Fredericks stopped Johnson's 29-race win streak in the 200.

Almost overlooked in this race is Marsh, the defending Olympic champion. Marsh won it in 1992 for the United States after the heavily favored Johnson came down with food poisoning and was eliminated in the semifinal.

Ato Boldon of Trinidad & Tobago and Jeff Williams of the United States also should be in the medal hunt.

QUOTABLE: "Some of the (200) runners are already talking noise about what they're going to do to me," Johnson told the media after winning the 400. "They think I'm vulnerable because I won the 400. That's a big mistake."

_ SHARON GINN

Past winners

1992: Mike Marsh, U.S., 20.01.

1988: Joe DeLoach, U.S., 19.75 (Olympic record).

1984: Carl Lewis, U.S., 19.80.

1980: Pietro Mennea, Italy, 20.19.

1976: Donald Quarrie, Jamaica, 20.23.

1972: Valery Borsov, Soviet Union, 20.00.

1968: Tommie Smith, U.S., 19.83.

1964: Henry Carr, U.S., 20.3.

1960: Livio Berruti, Italy, 20.5.

1956: Robert Morrow, U.S., 20.6.

World record

MICHAEL JOHNSON: U.S., 19.66 (1996).

Top times

of 1996

(through July 7)

MICHAEL JOHNSON: U.S., 19.66.

FRANKIE FREDERICKS: Namibia, 19.82.

ATO BOLDON: Trinidad & Tobago, 19.85.

JEFF WILLIAMS: U.S., 19.87.

MIKE MARSH: U.S., 19.88.

JON DRUMMOND: U.S., 20.05.

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