Disgraced 1988 Olympic 100m champ Ben Johnson ran in his first “competitive” race in about two decades on Tuesday, as he took part in a celebrity 4x100m relay at the Toronto International Track and Field Games. So how did he feel after anchoring his team to victory in two heats?
“Exhausted,” Johnson admitted to the National Post after running only 100 meters. “I’m in good shape, but my cardio is really bad. My breathing, you know? It’s bad. But my running style is OK.”
The Jamaican-born Canadian sprinter said he got the call about two weeks ago, and added that if he had been given more time he would have spent a couple of months training. For a 100-meters race. Against out-of-shape journalists who already weren’t within shouting distance when he crossed the line.
Johnson, 51, the subject of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary *9.79 about the infamous 1988 Olympics 100m final that he won before his medal was stripped for doping, then hung out to take pictures with fans, some of whom weren’t alive when Johnson was on the top of the track world a quarter-century ago.
“I got lots of fans, you know?” Johnson said after hearing his hometown crowd roar as he ran down the track. “It’s just a few people in track and field that don’t like me. I’ve got great fans all over the world.”
That’s probably news to Carl Lewis, who lost to Johnson in the ’88 race before being bumped up to the gold medal when the doping results came in. And I can only assume the always bitter Lewis is hard at work preparing for the ultimate rematch at next year’s celebrity race. God willing.