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Michael Johnson meets sprint sensation Usain Bolt

Johnson explains Bolt's speed

The Fastest Man Who Has Ever Lived
BBC ONE 1215-1315 BST; Saturday 5 June (rpt)

Michael Johnson on Usain Bolt
By Michael Johnson
Former 200m and 400m Olympic champion

While filming 'The Fastest Man Who Has Ever Lived' I got to spend time with Usain Bolt in Jamaica. We had met briefly on a few occasions but this was an opportunity to really get to know each other.

I was worried he may be a little cagey about speaking but it was surprisingly easy to get him to open up. I think a combination of things helped him relax.

We were at his practice track, where he was in his element with familiar faces, and there was also a curiosity on his part too. He had questions he wanted to ask me. As opposed to it being an interview it ended up being more of a conversation.

Usain Bolt at the Berlin World championships
I can see he has a set of gifts no one else has

Usain told me he was focused on defending his world and Olympic titles, which I think is a very mature approach on his part. He said he felt like he had not established himself, in terms of winning championships, in the way Carl Lewis or I did.

It was quite clear that he is over trying to run faster and faster each time he steps out on the track. It's not really the driving force for him anymore because he has already broken so many records.

He has already run so much faster than anyone in history and he doesn't need to go quicker to keep beating the other athletes.

The only way I see him losing to Tyson Gay or Asafa Powell is if Usain were to suffer from an injury, illness or if he just stops training.

Usain is in control - Tyson and Asafa are not. Those guys are in a very difficult position where they don't control their own destiny. No matter what they do, they cannot beat him unless he allows it by stepping onto the track unprepared.

Having watched Usain train up close and analysed his races I can see that he has a set of gifts that no one else has: an incredibly long stride combined with the ability to execute a race like a shorter sprinter - generating the same explosive power. That combination makes him so much faster than the rest of the field.

Bolt and Spearmon share a joke

But he could go faster and in the film I break down exactly how he can do this.

At my performance centre in the States we help athletes reach their full potential by focusing on improved biomechanics which can increase power and, as a result, speed.

One of the biggest issues we saw when analysing Usain was his lack of lateral stability. As a result you see a lot of rocking from side to side which means some wasted motion.

If he were to clean that up by strengthening his lateral stability in the torso area and in his hips then that would minimise, if not completely eliminate, a lot of that motion.

The wasted motion causes a chain reaction that goes down through the body and creates several inefficiencies in the entire system. Analysing his technique in slow motion, as incredible as it may sound, shows some flaws that are glaring.

Usain Bolt

Replay - Record-breaking Bolt wins world 100m gold in 2009

After his training session, Usain wanted to know about the 400 metres. Interestingly he didn't talk about himself; instead he wanted to talk about Jeremy Wariner, who I represent, and LaShawn Merritt.

I was a little surprised in his interest in the 400, mainly because his questions were from the viewpoint of a spectator.

He had clearly taken a special interest in watching the races and had a good knowledge of the event. He told me he didn't think either Jeremy or LaShawn could break my world record because he felt they were lacking the speed to do it.

Since our day together in Jamaica, Usain has gone on to record some great split times in 4x400m and 4x100m relays.

But what was most impressive was the 19.56-second 200m he ran at the beginning of May - the fourth fastest ever.


You would expect someone to run those kind of times later on in the season but for him to run that at this stage in the season means he is in great shape.

And it is not that difficult to maintain that type of form from this point in the season onwards. I would not be surprised to see him run another 200m world record this season at some point.

I left Jamaica feeling very impressed by Usain and my long-standing memory will be of going to the area where he grew up.

I got to see and learn about a very small rural community in Jamaica that most people in the world do not even know exists. It is incredible to think it has given the world a global superstar.

Michael Johnson was speaking to BBC Sport's Leon Mann.

see also
Powell clocks 9.81 to win in Doha
14 May 10 |  Athletics
Bolt can be beaten, insists Gay
06 May 10 |  Athletics
Bolt places 400m mission on hold
18 Mar 10 |  Athletics
Bolt can break my 400m record - Johnson
30 Apr 09 |  Athletics
Bolt starts season with 400m win
14 Feb 10 |  Athletics
Bolt grabs third gold and record
22 Aug 08 |  Athletics
Bolt claims 200m gold with record
20 Aug 08 |  Athletics
Bolt surges to gold in new record
16 Aug 08 |  Athletics
Athletics on the BBC
21 Apr 11 |  Athletics

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