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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’s often forgotten how slowly and grudgingly full recognition was given to the fact that women could actually run. Women weren’t allowed to compete in Olympic track and field until 1928, when the 100 metres and the 800 were the only two running events. The 800 was dropped after confected hysteria over some of the competitors finishing in a ‘distressed state’, a criterion which somehow never applied in the men’s event.
Remember when Australia ruled the world at men’s steeple? No: well, I don’t either. In fact, I would never have known of this brief domination had it not been for the coronavirus pandemic. Until very recently, I had thought that the history of the men’s steeple was pretty much the...
On 4 January, 1981, I ran to the summit of Mt Bogong. Having got to the top once, it took almost 38 years to the day to do it again, this time walking, on 30 December, 2018. Back to Mt Bogong, certainly; but certainly not back-to-back Mt Bogongs. The drive from...
From Rabat to Kampala A Colum By Len Johnson - Runner's Tribe This Sunday, the Australian teams to contest the world cross-country championships leave for Kampala. It is just on 42 years since Australia first contested the event in Rabat, Morocco, on 16 March, 1975. Now, 42 might seem a strange anniversary...
The Stawell Gift may have had 138 previous runnings, but like most other major sporting events, it couldn’t put one foot in front of the other during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. The 120-meter handicap sprint, run on a manicured grass track at Stawell’s Central Park, has launched a million stories...
A 3:32.17 win for Stewart McSweyn over 1500 in Zagreb on Tuesday night (15 September), was a national record of sorts, the second, 7:28.02 two days later for third over 3000 in Rome, was some sort of national record, taking down no less than the great Craig Mottram by some four seconds.
A column by Len Johnson - Runner's Tribe Sometimes our sport seems to flirt with danger, recklessly loading the gun, pointing it floorwards,  then professing surprise that it has shot itself in the sport. It seemed that day three of the world championships might be such a time. Just three real...
Did you see that? (we didn’t) | A Column by Len Johnson During my years as a full-time journalist, I worked many times with Roy Masters. A senior sports journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald, Roy had previously been an average country Rugby League player, a teacher and a successful NSW...
Zatopek week 2019 was highlighted by two significant events. First was the death of Peter Snell just a few days before the race; second, the win in national record time of Stewart McSweyn in the fifty-ninth running of the men’s 10,000 metres. It would be drawing too long a bow...
Diamonds are trumps | A Column By Len Johnson I’ve been wracking my brain a bit this week. Australia has three women – Eloise Wellings, Madeline Hills and Genevieve LaCaze - in the final of the 5000 metres Diamond Race at Friday night’s Ivo Van Damme Memorial in Brussels. I’ve been...