After becoming the first man to win the 200 and 400 meters in the same major international championship, Michael Johnson acknowledged that he might belong on the list of track and field’s all-time elite--but not at the top.
“I think what I did here definitely put me pretty high on a scale of athletes doing great things,” he said after adding the 200 title Friday to the one he won two days earlier in the 400 at the World Championships.
“When you make history, it’s a special thing. Carl Lewis has been there. Flo-Jo [Florence Griffith Joyner] has been there. Ben Johnson has been there.
“But Jesse Owens’ level no one has been able to get to. I wouldn’t put anyone else at that level. A lot of things he suffered through as an athlete, we can’t even understand with all the freedoms we have.”
Johnson said he believes his double here will assist him in his effort to persuade the International Amateur Athletic Federation, which governs the sport, to further alter the schedule so that he can more comfortably run in both events in the 1996 Summer Olympics at Atlanta. “I feel very confident that, if given the opportunity, I can do just as well or better in Atlanta,” he said.
Defending champion Maria Mutola of Mozambique, who had won 42 consecutive races in the 800 meters, was disqualified in the semifinals Friday for running out of her lane in the first 200 meters. . . . The United States’ Gwen Torrence, who lost a gold medal because of the same offense Thursday in the 200 meters, said she accepted the IAAF decision. But she had a more difficult time accepting an accusation by Jamaica’s Merlene Ottey, the eventual winner, that she cheated. “I’ve always tried to teach my little boy that you don’t have to cheat to do anything,” Torrence said of her 5-year-old son, Manley Waller Jr. “I don’t know what to tell him when he reads his mother cheated to win.”
UCLA’s John Godina, who won the shotput Wednesday, finished 10th in the discus. . . . Another Bruin, Amy Acuff, qualified for the women’s high jump finals. . . . Kenyan men, who won only one medal in the 800 and 10,000, got their revenge, finishing one-two in the steeplechase.