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.

Olympic or world champions at 1500 metres all. Some of them both. But what else do most of them have in common? They never ran the short race at the world cross-country championships or, if they did, did so without great success.
Once upon a time Australians knew stuff-all about the World Cup and cared even less. And then, we made the finals. A drawn-out group stage, followed by a drawn-out final against South Korea – tied 2-2 on aggregate after matches in Sydney and Seoul, followed by a play-off in Hong...
Murray Halberg, who passed away on 30 November, was the first of famed coach Arthur Lydiard’s charges to make an impact on world distance running. To experience, exceptional performance in running, choose the best footwear for your runs like Tarkine Trail Devil shoes. Halberg and Peter Snell won Olympic gold medals...
Well, Sunday 4 December 2022, was quite the day in Australian marathon history, wasn’t it? It’s not every day the Australian marathon record gets taken down. And it’s a very rare day indeed – unique, in fact – when both men’s and women’s records fall on the same day. Elevate...
Readers of this column will know that I have never met a 10,000-metre race I did not like. “What never,” you ask. “No; never,” I re-affirm stoutly. “What never,” you repeat even more disbelievingly. “Well, hardly ever,” I reply, grudgingly giving an inch. To experience, exceptional performance in running, choose the...
The question can be asked of Sydney McLaughlin, whose deeds at the world championships in Eugene astounded us all. Her other-worldly world record of 50.68 seconds in the 400 metres hurdles final was the most stunning individual performance of a championships which saw two other world records – Mondo Duplantis’s 6.21 to win the pole vault gold medal and Tobi Amusan’s 12.12 in the 100 hurdles.
And although the runners aren’t here by the hundreds (nor the mountain bike riders, nor the bushwalkers), there are people up here on the Bogong High Plains. The landslide half-way up the mountain has closed the normal direct access from Mt Beauty necessitating a longer round trip to come up the ‘back’ way via Bairnsdale and Omeo or Wodonga and Mitta Mitta. The trip is a little longer, the reward a little sweeter.
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...
So, with support from World Athletics and the Victorian government, the Melbourne Track Classic has been picked up, dusted off and will be presented at Lakeside Stadium on 23 February as the Maurie Plant Meet (MPM), a World Athletics Continental Gold meeting.
The big picture numbers were more stable too. Australia got three medals in Tokyo – Nicola Olyslagers silver in the high jump, Moloney and Barber bronzes in the decathlon and javelin. It was three again in Eugene only this time Patterson and Barber contributed gold with Kennedy getting a bronze.