Michael Johnson sure is chatty this year.
First it was commentary on how slave descendants have a genetic edge on the track. Now the 400-meter world-record holder and four-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist is calling out South African sprinter and double amputee Oscar Pistorius for potentially having an "unfair advantage."
"I consider Oscar a friend of mine, but he knows I am against him running," Johnson told the London Telegraph. "Because this is not about Oscar; it's not about him as an individual, it is about the rules you will make and put in place for the sport which will apply to anyone, and not just Oscar."
Pistorius, also known as "blade runner," has garnered a lot of attention since being approved to compete in London. The South African sprinter lost the lower part of his legs as a child and uses blade-like prosthetic limbs when he competes on the track.
Johnson isn't the first to broach the subject. The debate ensued at water coolers, among TV talking heads, and across the Internet as soon as the story broke in early July. Should a disabled runner whose limbs have been rebuilt with modern technology be allowed to compete with able-bodied athletes?
It's a reasonable debate and will make for must-see TV when Pistorius does take the track in London. It's also a compelling reason for Johnson to open his mouth.
A track diva if there ever was one, Johnson was one of the first runners to wear gold cleats in competition. Now, with the spotlight moved firmly to the likes of Pistorius and Usain Bolt, maybe Johnson misses all the attention he got while collecting gold medals in Atlanta. Maybe he's worried about a disabled athlete overtaking his world record down the line.
Either way, we can't wait to hear what he has to say next. Whenever the next track controversy pops up, we'll surely hear his opinion. If there isn't one, he'll probably make up his own.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
6:49 PM dhm