Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Olympic Schedule Changed to Allow Double Gold Bid

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Olympic Schedule Changed to Allow Double Gold Bid

Article excerpt

Michael Johnson got his wish and now will have an opportunity to make Olympic history.

For months, Johnson, the world champion at 200 and 400 meters, had been campaigning to have the two events separated at the Olympics so he could have a chance to become the first male to win both at the Games.

The International Amateur Athletic Federation, track and field's world governing body, agreed Sunday to reschedule the 200 and 400 to avoid a conflict. They did even better than Johnson had hoped for, giving him a day of rest between the completion of the 400 and the start of the 200.

"I couldn't ask for a much better schedule than this," Johnson said from Atlanta, site of the Games. "This is even a better schedule than I had last year in the World Championships in Goteborg (Sweden). I feel very excited now that I can train and prepare myself to put on a great show at Atlanta this summer.

"The rest day is an added bonus. All I had asked for was the two events to be separated."

No male has won the 200-400 double at the Olympics; one female, Valerie Brisco Hooks, did it in 1984 at Los Angeles, where several countries including the Soviet Union, boycotted the Games.

"The difference between what Valerie did and what I'm doing is the consistency I've shown over the years," said Johnson, 28.

At last year's World Championships, Johnson became the first runner ever to win both the 200 and 400. He has won 51 successive 400-meter finals dating to 1989 and 17 straight outdoor finals in the 200.

A double victory at Atlanta would give a high-profile boost to track and field in the United States, where the sport has had problems with financing and exposure.

"We believe that the Olympic Games will be great, but will be more important if the United States will have its heroes," IAAF President Primo Nebiolo said. "And Michael is one of those heroes. He can become one of the greatest heroes that we have had in athletics. …

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