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 couple of years back this writer commented on a couple of precocious performers by name of Armand – then, as now, more commonly known as ‘Mondo’ – Duplantis and Jakob Ingebrigsten. Around the same time another supremely gifted youngster, Selemon Barega, came out of nowhere to become the fourth-fastest...
As the Olympic women’s high jump drew to an absorbing conclusion in Tokyo, somewhere Wilson Kipketer may have been smiling. Australian watchers maybe not so much. Of course, we were passionately barracking for Nicola McDermott as she took the lead at two metres, set a new Australian and Oceania record...
In December, 1952, a young man stood on the starting line for a mile race at Melbourne’s Olympic Park, unsure whether the rumbling in his stomach was pre-race nerves or emanated from the couple of meat pies and chocolate sundae he had wolfed down fewer than two hours earlier.
A column by Len Johnson - 23/07/21 The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games haven’t even started and Australia is dominating. Some hours before the Opening Ceremony, as this is written, Australia is already up and about. In women’s football, goals to Tameka Yallop and the talismanic Sam Kerr took the Matildas to...
By Len Johnson They’re not necessarily the sort of figures you’d like associated with your name, but Stewart McSweyn now boasts a pair of impressive performances at 3000 metres. Seven minutes 30 seconds for 3000 metres represents 60 seconds per lap. Not many men have ever broken 7:30 for the distance. Even...
Monaco’s Stade Louis II stadium has become the locus of superfast middle-distance performances over recent years. Before we start wondering whether there might be something miraculous in the Mediterranean air, there are some other obvious factors at play.
For Australians, though, it was only the mile that mattered. Any year a Norwegian athlete is not attempting a world record – which is most years – the Dream Mile is the closing event of the Bislett Games. And this year, Australia’s Stewart McSweyn won it.
Universality. In the long and endless deliberations about the new qualification system for Olympic Games and world championships, who knew about the universality clause.
It is the eve of the US Olympic Trials as this piece is being written, the meeting American track and field fans will tell you is right up there with the Olympic Games. Some will go even further than that. Looking you squarely in the eye, they will proclaim the Trials to be even better than the Games.
A column by Len Johnson The observer was not impressed by the men’s 1500 metres final, describing it as “the most ridiculously tactical championship ever run.” Which championship? Which final? An honourable fail if you plumped for the most recent Olympic final in Rio five years ago when Matt Centrowitz won...