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.

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...
Linden Hall runs a 1500 metres in a time beginning with ‘three’. Rohan Browning runs the 100 metres in a time ending in ‘05’. Sometimes it’s just all about the numbers. Hall becomes the first Australian woman to break four minutes for 1500 metres. Browning hits the Tokyo Olympic automatic...
Jared Tallent’s retirement leaves Australia one champion short in the race walking department. Four Olympic medals – one gold, two silver and one bronze – over three Olympic Games eloquently attest to that. Coincidentally, Melbourne Track Classic, formerly Australia’s most prestigious invitational track and field meeting but now, in this...
This time last year – 12 March, 2020, to be precise - Georgia Griffiths ran 2:01.43 for 800 metres to beat national record holder Catriona Bisset, 2:01.54, by less than a step, with Linden Hall a further step back in third in 2:01.73. Madeleine Murray and Gigi Maccagnini were a...
How do you set an Australian record when 15 athletes – yourself, and the previous record-holder, included – have a superior legal performance. Simple, as it turns out. You just put a timer at the 100-yard point of a 100 metres race. That’s what happened in the New South Wales state...
So; there it is. A third Australian city will host a summer Olympics with the news that Brisbane is the likely host for the 2032 Olympic Games. Brisbane is not yet the designated host. Rather, the Queensland capital has been granted (checks notes) “preferred bidder status” on a list of...
Indoor middle-distance records and all-time lists are under assault, you may have noticed. Not just under assault, actually; more getting smashed – particularly the all-time lists. Pleasingly, Australians have also been involved. Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay set a world record 3:53.09 in France on 9 February. Then last weekend, came an Australian...
One night back in the late-1970s, the announcer at Melbourne’s Olympic Park finally gave vent to his exasperation at the cat-and-mouse battle between two of Australia’s leading distance athletes on the track below for the Victorian men’s 5000 metres title. “Doesn’t anyone want to win this race,” he cried. I couldn’t...
When Jessica Hull ran 8:36.03 to set a new Australian women’s record for 3000 metres last September, it was widely – and correctly – reported that she had broken Benita Willis’s previous mark set over 17 years earlier in 2003. Willis, in turn, had run 8:38.06 to finally better the...
Quick question. Is Nick Willis one of the best 1500/mile runners of his generation because he has now broken four minutes for the mile for 19 consecutive years? Or has he broken four minutes for the mile for 19 consecutive years because he is one of the best 1500/mile...