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24 September 2014
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The Beijing Games on the BBC
Michael Johnson

The 2008 Beijing Olympics and Paralympics on the BBC

BBC TV team Olympic impressions

Michael Johnson


BBC athletics analyst Michael Johnson dominated the international track scene for a decade and is the only man in history to both win consecutive Olympic gold medals in the 400m, and Olympic gold medals in both 200m and 400m.


Johnson chose to end his career after his double Olympic gold medal effort at the 2000 Olympic Games, finishing his career with an impressive total of 19 championship gold medals.


Since retiring Michael has achieved success across a number of commercial activities and in Britain he has become a familiar face on television as a commentator and analyst for BBC Sport, where he has been an essential part of the BBC team at every major international athletics events since the 2000 Olympics.


In 2002, Johnson was awarded the Television Pundit of the Year Award by the Royal Television Society.


"For me the Olympics means all the history. It's a great sports spectacle which brings together people from all cultures, backgrounds, religions and races. It's a wonderful and rewarding experience.


"When you're there it's the pinnacle of achievement for an athlete so you don't really think too much about the enjoyment. I competed from start to finish so I was totally focused on my events and didn't have time to see other stuff going on.


"The most significant moment of my career was the Atlanta Olympics, [when he became the only man to have won both the 200m and 400m gold medals.]


"The most enjoyable was Sydney as I'd been ill and my young son, who'd just been born, was in the stands, so to be there with him was really special.


"I didn' t watch much TV when I was younger, I was too busy out playing sport. The first Olympics I really took notice of was 1984 when I was in high school.


"I've been to Beijing several times. It's an exciting city – you go there to a restaurant with friends and then a year later you go back and that restaurant is no longer there.


"The investment the government has made in infrastructure is incredible – the Chinese are great at organising things – and Beijing will undoubtedly put on a great show – quite possibly the most spectacular Olympic ceremonies ever staged. The entire country is behind the Games and excited about hosting the world, and about the Chinese athletes.


"The Games is all about putting money into sport and in China it's government money rather than sponsorship, which goes in and then gets shifted back to where it was, so hopefully it will stay in sport.


"And as they have been training their coaches rather than just their athletes then they will be able to train future generations too.


"I'm really looking forward to seeing all the athletics events and I'm always looking for the unexpected new star – there are so many new athletes coming through lately, it will make it very exciting.


"It will be interesting to see the Chinese athletes – my performance-training company has worked with them for the past three years training their sprinters. I'd say they are currently a B nation (if A are the likes of the US, Russia, etc); there is no real history and tradition there, and the training programmes and methods have been far behind where they need to be for their athletes to reach real potential.


"But after being awarded the Games they made the commitment to invest in foreign coaching experience and sending their coaches and athletes to the US to learn. They do have a couple of strong medal hopes in Liu Xiang, the 110m hurdler and Athens gold medallist – who is the face of the Games – and Xing Huina, Olympic 10,000m champion in Athens.


"As far as Britain's medal hopes go, I'm looking at Kelly Sotherton in the heptathlon – you may say that you want Carolina Kluft to be there because you want to beat the world's No. 1, but if the world's No. 1 isn't there it must fill you full of confidence.


"Also Christine Ohuruogu – after having not been able to compete and then on returning becoming world champion, the pressure is on for her. Now it's another year and expectations are raised by that win.


"Looking ahead to 2012, I always enjoy coming to London, it's a great city, an international city so I'll be looking forward to coming here again for the Games.


"Team GB has had a culture of rewarding mediocrity previously and there was no hunger in the athletes, no desire, but since the Commonwealth Games it's been a lot better. They've taken criticism from people like me and upped their game. Now 2012 has put back their desire so hopefully that will be the legacy of 2012.


"I'm not sure Team GB will win a lot of medals on the track there, but maybe in other sports.


"I think London has planned especially well in terms of legacy and ecological responsibility and it could leave a blueprint of organising a Games the right way, with these key factors in mind."








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