Johnson was one of the track and field experts providing television commentary for the Berlin ’09 Olympics when Usain Bolt broke the 200m world record, set by none other than Michael Johnson. Asked prior to the start of the race if any of the athletes stood a chance against Bolt, Johnson was to the point and clear: “No. He’s just a completely different athlete on a whole ‘nother plane. We’ve never seen anybody like him. There’s no athlete out there who can compete with him—it’s just not possible.”
In a field where the top five posted amazing times of under 20 seconds, Bolt bested his competition by far, capturing the world record and a gold medal with his time of 19.19. His subsequent grandstanding and pandering to the photographers was a sharp contrast to the composure and graciousness displayed by Johnson at his world record run in ’96. Another difference between the two is their running style; Johnson is well known for his upright posture and impeccable carriage, whereas Bolt is less focused on form. In fact, reviewing the race, Johnson commented on Bolt’s running style.
“Usain Bolt doesn’t run with technique,” Johnson remarked. “He doesn’t care about technique. You look at him rocking back and forth, shoulders all over the place, because he can afford to do that. Because he gets so much more [with what he does]….”
Johnson went on to congratulate Bolt for “a great race…just unbelievable” and made a prediction: “I think [Bolt’s] capable of running under 19 seconds, as crazy as that sounds.” He reminded the other commentators that, while he hadn’t predicted Bolt’s world record run, he’d stated, “Anytime he takes the field, it’s possible.”
Michael Johnson talks about Usain Bolts running…