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 column by Len Johnson – Runner’s Tribe Could it be that the year’s best performance in the marathon came in the equivalent of a ‘beer mile’? Well, it could just be. That’s if you’re prepared to accord Nike’s Breaking 2 project at least as much credibility as an event in...
Don’t bring a knife to a gun-fight By Len Johnson reporting from the Gold Coast In the movie The Untouchables, the Sean Connery character offers the memorable line to one of his victims: “Never bring a knife to a gun-fight.” It took a while for Kenya to cotton on to this logic,...
Why Zatopek remains relevant: A Column By Len Johnson Ron Clarke hailed Emil Zatopek as the greatest distance runner who ever lived, not only for his performances, but also for his personality. Four Olympic gold medals – the 10,000 metres in London in 1948 and the unprecedented, and unequalled, distance treble...
It’s been the practice of Athletics Australia for more than a decade now to take every athlete who can be selected. It has also been a practice that dare not speak its name: not too often, anyway. Now ‘pick ‘em all’ has been officially endorsed. In a nationals preview story...
Women didn’t get to make distance running history. Paternalistic notions about the impact of physical stress on women which, in truth, were too often misogyny disguised as medical science, saw to that. Pheidippedes hijacked the whole marathon myth thing with his “rejoice, we have won,” message to Athens, collapse and...
By Len Johnson (reporting from Doha) - Runner's Tribe Hassan completes 1500/10,000m double; Obiri bounces back; Rojas ‘scares’ triple WR In another night of superlatives at the world championships, the men’s shot put reached a standard never before approached, much less seen, at a worlds or Olympics, while Sifan Hassan and...
By Len Johnson - Runner's Tribe A few days into the world championships in London a friend commented: “Four days, full stadium every session, great competition. So how come all I’m hearing about athletics is negative.” He was right to wonder. Those few days had brought some wonderful competition, all of...
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,...
‘Cause no, no, nobody knows you When you're down and out. In your pocket, not one penny, And as for friends, you don't have any Just six years ago, sailing was the toast of the town. A huge success at the London Olympics, lauded by all from the prime minister to Snowy on...
I can’t remember whether Ingrid Kristiansen called me, or I called her. But there was a phone call in March, 1988, the week before the women’s world 15km road race championship in Adelaide. Kristiansen was training at Falls Creek in preparation for a tilt at two world titles within six...