Struggling with the event years ago, I remember watching an IAAF Hurdles Training Video to iron out the deficiencies in my technique. Two of my three favorite hurdlers, Allen Johnson and Colin Jackson, were featured in that video. At that time, however, I preferred the former World Record over Johnson.
Through the years, I learned to appreciate Allen Johnson. Never in the history of the event has a hurdler stayed on top of the pack. Despite strings of injuries that cut short the best of his performances, Allen always seemed to come back from the bottom.
Johnson with his daughter, shortly after winning the 1996 Atlanta Olympics Gold
Johnson won in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and an unprecedented four World Championship Gold Medals (1995, 1997, 2001 and 2003), his last World Gold coming at the expense of an upstart Liu Xiang.
Soon enough, Liu and Johnson became my hurdling heroes. I loved how they dueled prior to the 2004 Athens Games – and the mutual respect they had for each other. There was no trash talk or bad blood (like the Michael Johnson vs. Maurice Greene chapter) between the two, despite the multitude of head-to-head battles. In fact, Liu actually idolized the Johnson. What a great race that could have been, had Johnson not clipped a hurdle in the preliminary rounds in Athens.
Despite injuries, Johnson did not fade away. In 2006, he again went under 13 seconds, clocking 12.96s. At the age of 37, Johnson grabbed silver in the 2008 World Indoor Championships. After reading this article from Universal Sports, I’m glad to know that my idol – at 39 years old – is not going to hang up his spikes any time soon.
I’m still a little tired from the light hurdles workout I did last night. Recovering my competition sharpness would take tons of hard work and much discipline. Reading about a 39-year old guy aiming to run sub-13.20 makes the struggle a lot easier to bear.
“The hunger is still there. I’ve always loved running. Besides you only live one time and when I do stop running it will be over forever. So I am going to make the most of it while I still can.” – Allen Johnson