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.

“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?).
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.
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...
The men’s 1500 metres was one of the two most anticipated races at the just-concluded national championships in Adelaide (the other, the women’s 800).
Running in the opening Diamond League meeting of Olympic year in Xiamen somebody named Gudaf Tsegay won in 3:50.30, suggesting the reigning 10,000 metres world champion and 5000 world record holder may also be capable of giving dual Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon – and anyone else who emerges in the interim - a run for her money in Paris.
The selection window for the Olympic marathons closes this weekend and the Australian selectors can begin weighing the relative merits of the six women and four men from whom they can name three of each to run the Paris 26-miler.
The actual running of the relays is exciting enough. Getting the baton around in the 4x100 is always a delicate balance between risk and reward. Push the envelope on the changes at the risk of dropping the baton or overrunning the zone. Then there’s the physical side of the 4x4 as after the first three bends it’s a high-speed battle for the best racing line in what essentially becomes a middle-distance sprint.
In line with that is the notion that each National Olympic Committee has the right to be represented at each Olympic Games. Thus, the universality clauses. As expressed in the World Athletics explainer to the qualification system for Paris: “An NOC with no male or female qualified athlete or relay team will be allowed to enter their best ranked male athlete or best ranked female athlete”  . . . so far, so not so bad. But then, “in either the 100 metres, 800 metres or marathon.”
When Rose Davies shaved just over two seconds off Jess Hull’s Australian record for 5000 metres in running 14:41.65 in Tokyo last weekend (19 May), I was more surprised than I should have been.
When it comes to distance running, Oslo’s Bislett Stadium seems to be the gift that keeps on giving for Australians, Georgia Griffith the latest beneficiary with a national record in the 3000 metres on Thursday (30 May).