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Gold Rush Hardcover – 15 Sep 2011
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“Essential Reading” The Observer--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Michael Johnson, 43, is one of the most pre-eminent athletes of all time. He has four Olympic and nine World Championship gold medals to his name. At the 1996 Atlanta Games, he won both the 200m and 400m (the only athlete in history to do this at the same Games), and his world record for 200m of 19.32 stood for 12 years until Usain Bolt broke it at the Beijing Games of 2008. He still holds the world record for 400m – 43.18 seconds.
Johnson voluntarily returned his 4x400m relay gold medal from the Sydney Games of 2000 after a team-mate admitted taking performance-enhancing drugs earlier in his career.
Following his retirement, Johnson became a sports pundit with the BBC and has since established himself as one of the most popular and renowned sports broadcasters in the UK. The BBC's coverage of Olympic Games and World and European track-and-field Championships is hinged around his contributions.
He writes a regular column for The Times and owns his own sports training facility, the Michael Johnson Performance Centre, in Texas.
In 2002, he was awarded the Television Pundit of the Year Award by the Royal Television Society.
He lives in San Francisco, California.
Top customer reviews
I recommend that you buy it, but skip the winning mantra bits that are ever-present and make it a little tough going (Editor, where were you with your red marker strike-throughs?)
The short answer is talent and hard work. For this book Johnson draws on his own experience and interviews with other great Olympic gold medallists. Usain Bolt, Nadia Commenic and Ian Thorpe all contribute, as do British legends Chris Hoy, Steve Redgrave and Rebecca Addlington.
Perhaps the best thing about this book, is that as you read, you can hear Johnson's authoritative baritone telling you his experiences. The calm and unsensational delivery that makes him such an assured pundit on television, sets the tone for the book. Johnson is a man who knows about being an elite athlete.
The book's opening chapters deal mainly with Johnson's early career and the trials and tribulations up until he won double gold in Atlanta. After that he goes on to talk about remaining focused, coping with the pressures of fame and the temptations of performance enhancing substances (and his abhorrence of them).
The book does have a flaw, and it's one that mirrors elite sport. It's repetitive. Much as athlete training consists of endless repeats of training routines, Johnson's book repeats the same mantras over and over again. Focus, strategy, execute, these words turn up again and again. We hear endlessly about Michael's training programmes, and frankly they are only interesting to read about once. Everybody knows that reaching the pinnacle of a sport is about so much more than talent these days; we've all seen the video montages of rowers exhaling their own lungs as they prepare for the games. Repetition is the nature of the beast and Johnson can be forgiven for falling victim to it in his book. Less forgivable is his continual mentioning of his company Michael Johnson Performance. It all starts to sound like a desperate plug.
It's probably my personality type, but I found the human elements of the book to be the most satisfying. The chapters on cheating and fame are strong, probably because Michael is so passionate about them. All in all this is an interesting book. It details the sheer volume of preparation that goes into competing for an Olympic Medal (for example Michael had two different hotels booked during the Sydney games) and the lengths athletes go to to make sure everything is right.
At a time when we are being wowed by superlative performances in every Olympic event, Johnson's book is a timely reminder of the hard work and commitment that goes into every single one. There is little in this book that will shock or surprise you, but it is a passionate yet understated appraisal of what makes an Olympian.
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