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.

There I was, standing in the bowels of Hampden Park in my stockinged feet, my shoes with one of the athletes in what could charitably be called ‘my charge’, the other whisked away to heaven knows where by a Glasgow 2014 official and coming back heaven knows when.
Angela Tanui and I share one thing in common: we both set out to run the Boston Marathon but neither of us got there. On the whole, though, I’d rather share her 2:17:57 marathon personal best. Seeing Angela’s got the better PB, let’s begin with her story. A couple of...
A column by Len Johnson No doubt about it: ask any athlete what is the biggest thing in an Olympic year – even an Olympic year which wasn’t going to be an Olympic year until the Covid-postponement made it one, and they will almost certainly reply: “the Olympic Games”. Every athlete...
A column by Len Johnson This columnist has always been a big fan of the Rampaging Roy Slaven and H.G. Nelson observation that “too much sport is barely enough”. But, I wonder, what about when five of the world’s biggest marathons – Berlin, London, Chicago, Boston and New York – are...
I checked the impression that 2021 has been a good year for Australian records by reviewing the pace of national record-breaking in recent years. The figures seem to confirm the impression: Eight athletes set a total of 14 Australian records in 2021, a higher figure for both number of record-breakers and number of records than for any of the previous three years.
Written by Len Johnson Not many people could entitle an autobiography My Life in Athletics as appropriately as did Mel Watman in 2018. Even fewer could do so without the slightest hint of pretentiousness and in the complete absence of outstanding athletic achievement. Yet Mel Watman, sometime club steeplechaser and mid-pack...
Marjorie Jackson, who celebrated her 90th birthday on 13 September, was Australia’s first athletics superstar. Our first women’s Olympic gold medallist, our first women’s world record holder, Jackson surged to international recognition with a double in the 100 and 200 metres at the Helsinki 1952 Olympic Games. She would have...
Zurich’s fabled Weltklasse meeting has often been dubbed “the Olympics in one day.” It’s a fair call. Usually staged within a week of the conclusion of the year’s major championships – Olympic, world or European – Zurich re-packages the just concluded championship as three hours’ non-stop action. The champions can...
If you asked an Australian track and field fan to nominate the three best multi-day meetings held in this country, I guess there would be near-unanimous agreement on the top two – the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games and Sydney 2000.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah share many similarities. Both Jamaican. Both quick-silver fast. Both double-double Olympics champions. And both women may be wind-legal faster than the current world record holder in the 100 metres, though it appears the chance of either of them being thus acknowledged are about zero. How so,...