Michael Johnson has the golden touch. At the Track and Field World Championships in Seville, Spain, which ended Sunday, the track star known as "Superman" became the first man in history to win nine career golds at the worlds. He also set the world record of 43.18 seconds in the 400-meter final, 0.11 seconds faster than the previous record set by Butch Reynolds 11 years ago. "It's an honor," Johnson said about the nine golds. "It's a testament to what I've tried to do in my career: to be consistent, and go into every championship on the top of my game and go in to win." (America's women's track star, Marion Jones, had to withdraw from Seville because of an injury.)
Q: What else has Johnson accomplished?
A: Besides shattering the longest-standing record in men's track, he anchored the US 1,600-meter team to victory at the world championships for his ninth career gold medal, one more than Carl Lewis. He now has won four straight 400-meter world titles, three relay gold medals, and two 200-meter championships. He has three Olympic medals and ran on the US team that set the world record for the 1,600-meter relay last year.
Q: What is Johnson's background?
A: Born in Dallas, he was the fastest kid on the block. But he didn't get many scholarship offers even after placing second in 200 at the Texas state meet. However, he was recruited by Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where his career in track took off. He broke the school record for 200 meters in 1987 and went on in 1996 to become the first man to win the 200-meter and 400-meter crowns at the Atlanta Olympic Games.
Q: What's next for Johnson?
A: He has two more races this season, at Brussels, Belgium, today and at Rieti, Italy, on Sunday. Then Johnson will return to Dallas for some R&R, but not for long: He must start preparing for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. "Michael comes back fast," says his coach Clyde Hart. "He's never much out of shape."
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