Johnson showdown is hit by muscle problem

Michael Johnson's eagerly anticipated head-to-head race against Maurice Greene, which was due to take place here in the early hours of this morning, was yesterday put into doubt after Johnson's right leg suffered cramp during a preliminary 200 metre race at the United States Olympic trials.

Michael Johnson's eagerly anticipated head-to-head race against Maurice Greene, which was due to take place here in the early hours of this morning, was yesterday put into doubt after Johnson's right leg suffered cramp during a preliminary 200 metre race at the United States Olympic trials.

The double world champion's coach, Clyde Hart, said he would recommend that the sprinter not run if he had any problems with the leg. "If in his warm-up it looks like he is favouring that leg or he can't fully use it, that tightness is there that might cause deeper problems, I would not recommend that he run," Hart said.

"You are jeopardising a shot at two gold medals that you already have a shot at... if you get a serious injury." Hart said, referring to the fact that Johnson has already qualified for the Sydney Games in the 400m and 4x400m relay events.

But Hart quickly added he hoped Johnson would be able to run. "We hope it is something that he can make it through and make it on the team."

Johnson said immediately after his race that he felt his right quadricep cramp up while running the curve. He went on to finish the race in 19.89sec, the second-fastest time in the world this year.

Now the concern becomes how much soreness there is from the quadricep cramping and how much of it can beremoved before race time.

"It's in his right thigh, which he uses when he pushes from the starting blocks." the coach said. "So a big concern is how it's going to affect his start."

Johnson and Greene, the world 100m record holder, were due to be matched in last night's second semi-final, giving them an opportunity to race twice if both make the final.

They have met only twice over 200m in their careers, with each sprinter winning once.

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