Allen Kenneth JohnsonJun 24th, 2014 | By BHS | Category: Sports
1971-Present Allen Kenneth Johnson is a world-class track and field athlete who was a dominant force in the 110-meter high hurdles for well over a decade. Over the course of his career, he won four International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) World Championship titles and a gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Johnson also garnered three gold medals in the 60-meter hurdles at the World Indoor Championships. The respected sports authority, Track & Field News, ranked Johnson the top 110- meter hurdler in the world for a period of four years. To date, he is the only hurdler to finish more than 10 official 110-meter races in fewer than 13 seconds.
An Exceptional Track and Field Talent Becomes a 110-Meter Hurdling Sensation
Allen Johnson was born on March 1, 1971, in Washington, DC. He established himself as an outstanding all-around athlete at a very early age. As a student at Lake Braddock High School in Burke, Virginia, Johnson excelled in a wide variety of track and field events. His tremendous versatility and multifaceted athleticism ultimately caught the attention of the varsity track and field program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC),
Recruited out of high school as a decathlete, Johnson made outstanding contributions to the UNC team as a high jumper, a long jumper, and, of course, a hurdler. After discovering that Johnson was simply too injury prone to sustain a successful career as a decathlete, UNC coach Dennis Craddock developed new strategies to utilize Johnson’s considerable talents. Although an exceptional long jumper with a personal best of 8.14 meters, Johnson began to concentrate more and more on his performance as a hurdler. He had the good fortune to attend UNC during Charles Foster’s tenure as an assistant coach. The former hurdle great took Johnson under his wing to help refine and perfect the young athlete’s technique.
During his last summer break as a UNC student, Johnson watched the televised broadcast of the 1992 Olympics at home with his family. Looking up from the TV, Johnson made the prescient prediction that he would not only compete but also take home the gold at the next Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Over the next three years, Johnson earned
a silver medal at the 1994 IAAF World Cup in London, England, and a gold medal at the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg. Sweden. He also won gold in the 60-meter hurdles at the 1995 World Indoor Championships in Barcelona, Spain.
In 1996, Johnson placed first in the Olympic Trials and achieved the best time, of his career in the 110-meter hurdles. Finishing in 12.92, he was a mere 0.01 seconds shy of Colin Jackson’s longstanding world record.
Needless to say, he qualified for the Summer Games in Atlanta with a minimum of difficulty. Although somewhat overshadowed by Carl Lewis’ record-tying ninth gold medal victory, Johnson’s performance at the 1996 Olympics was truly exceptional. Earning gold in his signature 110-meter event, he shattered the existing Olympic record with a final time of 12.95.
After Olympic Gold
Johnson followed his 1996 Olympic win with a gold medal at the 1997 World Championships in Athens, Greece, and a silver medal at the 1998 Goodwill Games in Uniondale, New York. He overcame a hamstring injury in 2000 to qualify for the 110-meter hurdle final at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Finishing fourth in the event, Johnson narrowly missed adding a second Olympic medal to his long list of achievements.
A significant injury to his ankle in 2001 did not prevent Johnson from bringing home gold from both the World Championships in Edmonton, Canada, and the Goodwill Games in Brisbane, Australia. Johnson passed another significant milestone on August 30, 2003, when he returned to the World Championships to lead the American team to a 1-2-4-5 finish in the 110-meter hurdles. Dominating the race from start to finish, Johnson secured the fourth world crown victory of his career. With the win, he surpassed Greg Foster’s three championships to earn the title of the greatest hurdler in World Championships history.
Despite his numerous later achievements, Allen Johnson never again reached the final rounds of Olympic competition. At the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, Greece, his Olympic career came to an unfortunate end when he clipped a hurdle and fell during the second preliminary round of competition. Olympic performance aside, 2004 was a great year for Johnson. Not only was he ranked as the number one hurdler in the world, but he also took home his last international gold medal at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Johnson’s fourth and final number one world ranking came in 2006, testifying to an enduring commitment to excellence that is unique within the world of athletic competition.
Over the course of his career, Johnson won a number of prestigious awards for his performance both on and off the track. In 1997, USA Track and Field (USATF) honored him with the Jesse Owens Award the organization’s highest honor for athletic achievement. He also received a 1999 USATF Visa Humanitarian Award for his successful efforts to install a new track surface at his Lake Braddock High School alma mater.
Johnson retired from official competition in 2010 at the advanced age
of 39. After hanging up his running shoes, he volunteered as an assistant track and field coach at the University of South Carolina. Johnson currently coaches sprinting and hurdles at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado Springs, Colorado. During his very first season with the USAFA, he led the men’s 4×400-meter relay team to Mountain West titles in both indoor and outdoor championship meets.