Home A Column By Len Johnson

A Column By Len Johnson

Len Johnson wrote for The Melbourne Age as an athletics writer for over 20 years, covering five Olympics, 10 world championships and five Commonwealth Games.

He has been the long-time lead columnist on RT and is one of the world’s most respected athletic writers.

He is also a former national class distance runner (2.19.32 marathon) and trained with Chris Wardlaw and Robert de Castella among other running legends. He is the author of The Landy Era.

Well then. That was something, wasn’t it? All summer the middle-distance events have been the spotlight of Australian athletics and, come the national championships, they delivered again. In spades. Ultimately, though, one or two exceptions aside, the form held up. After all that churning, the cream rose to the top...
Glory days, well they'll pass you by, Glory days, in the wink of a young girl's eye, Glory days, glory days - Bruce Springsteen ‘The Boss’ had that right, I reckon. The glory days pass you by: rarely do they return. Which is why the announcement this week of a revamped Melbourne Track Classic...
Newcomers emerge. From nowhere, but suddenly ready. Established performers can find the lure of the Olympics has seduced them into stretching their career just one more year before cruelly abandoning them. Fixed in their four-year cycle – except Tokyo! - the Games timing has a touch of Goldilocks, a year too soon for some, a year too late for others, just right for the medallists.
“It seems crazy,” Kerr responded, comparing the 40,000 to money on offer in other sports and against the appearance fees paid to some of the world indoor gold medallists – Noah Lyles, Grant Holloway and Femke Bol three he name-checked – to compete at other meetings (guess Kerr’s implying it’s less?).
The women’s race had barely sunk in – a sub-30 from Ethiopia’s world cross-country silver medallist Tsigie Gebreselama, 30:35.66 from Lauren Ryan in third place, breaking Benita Willis’s Australian record set way back in the 2003 world championships – when eight men came in under 27 minutes in the men’s with another five, including Jack Rayner in another AR 27:09.57, between 27:07 and 27:10.
Clark was a month short of his nineteenth birthday when he led the final of the men’s Olympic 400 metres into the final straight of the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1984. The length of that straight later he had missed an Olympic medal by an agonising four one-hundredths of a second.
Athletics Australia have announced the teams for the world cross-country championships in Belgrade. And, on International Women’s Day no less, the selectors have decided to send precisely half a women’s senior team. Actually, that’s a mis-speak. There is no such thing as half a team: the decision is to send...
What a race that was last week (Thursday 22). Cameron Myers leads home a stellar 1500 metres field - including 2022 world champion Jake Wightman – runs the fastest time ever by an Australian man on Australian soil, leads six other Australians and four internationals, under 3:40.c
It’s a tough gig in athletics proposing new things. People all over don’t embrace change. Not all athletes are runners. But the overwhelming majority of them will run a mile away from a change. This is not necessarily a bad thing: to run 100 metres in under 10 or 11...
Time is marked out in finite units – seconds, minutes, hours, days, etc. But neither time nor events seem to work out that way. Sometimes nothing much seems to be happening. Other times everything seems to be happening at once. That’s the way it’s been for the week beginning Sunday...