Michael Johnson: A track & field, Olympic and Baylor legend
Baylor has quite the list of Olympic track and field stars — from C.M. King at the third modern Olympics back in 1904, to three-time gold medalist Jeremy Wariner in more recent years. But none shines brighter than Michael Johnson (BBA ’91).
Where does one even begin with Johnson’s resume? Let’s start with his time at Baylor, where he won five NCAA championships. Three of those came in the 200 meters (1989 indoor, 1990 indoor & outdoor), foreshadowing his future Olympic success. The other two came in the 4×400-meter relay (1990 indoor & outdoor), as he helped solidify Baylor track’s reputation as “Quarter Mile U.”
But it was at the Olympics shortly after college where Johnson became a star. He won the first of his four Olympic gold medals 30 years ago this week, helping the U.S. take first in the 4×400 relay at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Four years later, he famously donned gold shoes to win gold in both the 200 and 400 meters in Atlanta — the only male athlete ever to accomplish that double-dip at one Olympics — and he added a fourth gold in the 400 meters at the 2000 Sydney games, becoming the first male 400m champ ever to successfully defend his Olympic title. (He also won a fifth gold in Sydney in the 4×400, but Team USA was later disqualified due to PED use by two of Johnson’s teammates.)
If there’s a hall of fame related to Baylor, track and field, and/or the Olympics, then Johnson is in it. He was elected to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1997, the Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000, the U.S. Track & Field Hall of Fame in 2004, the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2009, and the international IAAF Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2012. His performance in the 200m at the ’96 Olympics has been named the greatest moment in USA Track and Field history, and he was named one of the USA’s top-five Summer Olympians ever by ESPN in 2012.
Since his retirement, he has at times served as an assistant coach for Baylor track and field, and the program annually hosts the Michael Johnson Invitational. Today, he serves as an agent and motivational speaker and oversees a training facility in North Texas. He also works as a track-and-field commentator for the BBC, having covered each of the last five Olympics.
Sic ’em, Michael Johnson!