I was thirteen years old and everything really stopped when Michael Johnson ran in the Olympics. You always go back and try to figure out why you were awestruck by something long ago, and with Johnson, it's still so obvious. When watching Johnson run that year in Atlanta, and hearing about his feats before the Olympics, you knew you were watching the best in the world, or maybe the best ever. And that's really special.
We had all run the 200 or 400 in gym class or on the track team, felt that rush turning the last corner and digging our shoes into the track for that last burst. We all knew what good times looked like. We all knew what the world record was. And we all wanted to see Michael Johnson go crazy in front of a home crowd.
So he became legend among, well, everyone. During track practice, we talked about how Johnson got stronger as the race went on. How in the world did anyone run a faster second half of the race, we asked. That's just foolish.
And he ran upright? Everyone tried it at least once on the track, only to find their upper body tiring and eventually going back to the driving, sprinting style that made so much more sense.
His Olympic moment became a tremendous spectacle. #Goldshoes would have been trending instantly, had Twitter not been some years away. Would he win? Would he break the Olympic record? Could he possibly live up to the hype? Wasn't he better, really, at the 400?
So that's my Olympic moment, when everything stopped and America watched Michael Johnson crush records on the biggest stage possible. Magical, magical times.
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