US Olympic Legend Michael Johnson Reveals What it Takes to Be a ‘Runner’

Published 10/23/2021, 2:10 AM EDT
World champion sprinter Michael Johnson of the U.S. speaks during the Doha GOALS forum in Doha December 11, 2013. REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad/Files


Long before Usain Bolt burst onto the scene, an American sprinter dominated the tracks for a long time. Michael Johnson became a legend of the sport after his incredible performances during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

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To put things into perspective, Johnson became the first athlete to win both the 200 and 400-meters competitions in 1996. Although both these races require a different sort of technique, Johnson perfected them with ease. Currently, with the internet debating on the difference between jogging and running, Johnson made an epic statement on the way people see runners.

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Michael Johnson speaks about runners

The legendary sprinter sided people who ran and reiterated that they deserved to be called runners. No matter what speed people ran at, the ability of a person to run cannot be underestimated, according to Johnson.

“I’m qualified to say they’re wrong. If you run, you’re a runner. Period. Running at any speed takes tremendous effort. I’ll be first to say some people are just slow. So what? Run anyway. Run faster tomorrow than you did today. Victory!”

“OK, what’s the next problem I need to solve?” said Johnson.

Jogging means running at a steady pace, which is a part of an exercise. On the other hand, running is measured as a person’s ability to run as fast as they can. Although there were doubts if slow runners are actually runners, he denied it, saying people who run should be known as runners.

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A prominent advocate for mental health

Having a strong mental ability is as important as physical fitness for every athlete in the world. After his illustrious career, Michael Johnson became a great advocate for mental health in sports. He has often stressed how physical attributes are important, but so are mental well-being and stability.

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“If I see an athlete pull up clutching the back of their thigh, I have a pretty good idea about what is going on. I know what the problem is, I know what it takes to put it right and I understand how that all feels for that athlete.”

“Mental health is an issue that affects every single one of us. But it is also unique to every single one of us. This isn’t something to be diagnosed and analysed in real-time from the broadcast booth or on social media. We need to listen,” said Johnson.

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Undoubtedly, the legendary athlete is spot on with his statements. Despite calling it quits ages ago, Johnson remains one of the most reputed sprinters, whose opinion is always respected. Notably, his interesting take on runners looks likely to cause a welcome change for all runners.

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Jacob Gijy

615 articles

Jacob Gijy is a US Sports and NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Gijy finished his Masters in Counselling Psychology and worked in a hospital for 2 years before his passion for sports compelled him to find his way to sports journalism. A fan of the great Tim Duncan, he is always ready to pick up a debate with anyone who does not offer the center the respect he deserves.

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