Michael Johnson believes that Usain Bolt’s world 100 and 200 metre records will not be beaten for at least another decade – and that Wayde Van Niekerk will struggle to match his own unique feat of winning global men’s world 200 and 400m titles at the same championships.
Johnson, whose own world 200m mark of 19.32sec was surpassed when Bolt won the 2009 world title in 19.19, told insidethegames:
“No one knows about records or how long they’ll last, so I don’t speculate.
“However, I don’t think Bolt’s records will be broken by any current sprinter.
“But 10 years from now another great athlete may come along with unique talent and break both of them.”
This summer Van Niekerk, who eclipsed Johnson’s 1999 world 400m record of 43.18 by winning the 2016 Olympic title in 43.03, attempted the 400/200m double at the IAAF World Championships in London.
But after retaining his 400m title the South African had to settle for silver in the 200m behind Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev.
“It’s a very difficult double,” said Johnson, who won his own double at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
“But it’s easier now that there are only three rounds of each as opposed to four rounds when I did it.
“You never know - it depends on the athlete, their training, and the competition.
“Van Niekerk is obviously uniquely talented to be world class and a medallist at both events, but it appears his training wasn’t sufficient for the double this year.
“The training for the double is quite tricky and I don’t think many athletes and coaches realise this.
“Competition is an important and often overlooked factor - if Bolt was still competing we wouldn’t be talking about Van Niekerk succeeding with this double.”
Though it has since been bettered, Johnson’s 19.32 at the Atlanta Olympics took more off the 200m record than anyone before – or since.
Does he think that is the record of his that may remain longest?
“Probably,” he replied, “but the double could last longer.
“Four consecutive 400 metres world titles is pretty tough too…”
Read about the growing influence of Michael Johnson Performance over its first ten years in the Big Read.