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.

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...
The Commercial Hotel in Kerang, a rural town in Victoria’s Mallee region, is as unlikely a site for a High-Performance Training Centre as you could find. Yet it may have a claim to being Australia’s first such facility.
Regular readers will know that this column loves the annual rankings lists. If there’s one thing better than watching a year’s athletics unfold around the world, it’s reading about how respected observers of the sport rate the way things have gone. Whether it is done by popular vote or detailed...
We’ve all done some strange things for training from time to time. But you would have to go some to match the training Ron Clarke put in one weekend in 1966. Granted, most of us would have trouble matching anything Ron Clarke did (other than, perhaps, the three years he...
A column by Len Johnson For those not closely monitoring Tasmania’s Christmas Carnivals series of cycling and athletics competitions – i.e. most of the world – Stewart McSweyn’s 3:50.61 mile at Penguin on 29 December came as a bolt from the blue. Not that there’s any surprise about McSweyn running that...
It’s been quite the year for records. World records, area records, national records going down like ninepins. It’s possible that without much ‘normal’ athletics happening, record-breaking creates even bigger headlines. Setting up a night of records, as happened when Joshua Cheptegei and Letesenbet Gidey broke the men’s 10,000 and women’s...