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.

A Column by Len Johnson Last time Sebastian Coe was in this much trouble over something that happened in Russia was when he lost the Moscow 1980 Olympic 800 metres final to Steve Ovett. Coe was the world record holder, two seconds faster than anyone else in the field. Yet he...
A Column By Len Johnson The one flaw in Ron Clarke’s career was the lack of a championship gold medal. Long before his passing earlier this year, however, it was pretty well universally acknowledged that the manner in which he re-imagined and re-shaped track distance running more than made up...
A column by Len Johnson Few runners kept up with Emil Zatopek during his brilliant career. Even fewer got past the Czechoslovakian champion. And of those who did, hardly any stayed ahead of ‘Zato’ all the way to the line. If it was hard enough catching up with Zatopek through his...
Sunday morning, Melbourne, 18 October, 2015 and the Australian women’s Olympic marathon picture seemed to crystallise as Jess Trengove ran 2:27:45 in the Melbourne marathon and Lisa Weightman won the half-marathon in an even 71 minutes. Like a kid’s jigsaw, the picture did not stay in place long. Less than...
Jim Dunaway, who passed away earlier this year, was one of the giants of track and field journalism. Or perhaps he was a dinosaur, as in ‘we won’t see the likes of him again’, a creature from a past age, rather than in the literal sense. Mostly, he was just Jim....
A COLUMN BY LEN JOHNSON The theory of running rounds is that the best eight, 12 or 15 runners make the final. The cream rises to the top, so they say. But are there too many clots being pulled up with the cream. Two thoughts occurred to me about the track events...
Some readers may be familiar with The Goon Show, an inspired BBC radio comedy program of the day based on the vivid imaginings of Spike Milligan – the grandfather of modern British comedy - as interpreted by Milligan, Harry Secombe and Peter Sellers. One episode concerns a mysterious epidemic of...
Barely a minute after the start of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games women’s 400 metres, Cathy Freeman was sitting in a crumpled heap on the track. This was scarcely the pose you would expect of a gold medallist, but it was all Freeman had left after defying one of the...

Marathon Musings

Maybe it’s because I’m from Melbourne where the AFL media bubble is such a humungous beast that it makes the elephant in the room look miniscule. Or maybe it’s because we are only a couple of weeks on from a ‘local’ world championships in Beijing. Then again, maybe it’s because...