Olympic Memories: 1996

Michael Johnson...Set 200m world record at Atlanta Games in 1996...

One of the greatest track Olympians of modern times, Johnson's two gold medals at Atlanta in 1996 constituted the first 200m and 400m Olympic double ever achieved by a male athlete. In sparkling form in the build-up to the Games, breaking the 200m world record in the US trials, the hype surrounding the Dallas-born sprinter reached fever pitch when he won the 400m convincingly, almost a second clear of Britain's Roger Black who took silver. The best was yet to come as, wearing his Zytel custom-made Nike golden running shoes, he destroyed his own 200m record in the final, setting a new mark of 19.32 seconds. Not only does this record still stand, as does his 400m record of 43.18sec set three years later, but nobody has even come close to it. The fastest competitive time since, by Tyson Gay in 2007, still falls 0.3sec slower, and some believe that it will be decades before the time is threatened. Before 1996, Pietro Mennea's 200m record of 19.72sec had stood for 17 years, further proof that Johnson must be regarded as one of the greatest sprinters to have competed in an Olympics and that his performance in 1996 was a historic and unique achievement.