Olympic legend Michael Johnson caught in athletics 'racism' storm

·4-min read
Pictured right is Olympic legend Michael Johnson and Nigerian runner Tobi Amusan on the left.
Olympic legend Michael Johnson (R) was accused by some athletics fans of 'racism' after questioning Nigerian runner Tobi Amusan's world record at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon. Pic: Getty

American Olympic legend Michael Johnson has hit back at critics after becoming embroiled in a racism scandal at the World Athletics Championships.

The four-time Olympic gold medallist and BBC pundit caused uproar after questioning Nigerian runner Tobi Amusan's stunning world record in the semi-finals of the women's 100m hurdles in Oregon.

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Amusan smashed the women's 100m hurdles world record with a scorching time of 12.12 seconds in the semi-finals, before storming home to win gold in the final.

The amazing feat came on the same day that a number of incredible times were recorded and numerous athletes - including Australia's Michelle Jenneke in the same semi-final - smashed their own personal bests.

It led Johnson to question whether something was amiss with the recording of the times, considering how many athletes were recording new PBs.

“I don’t believe 100h times are correct. World record broken by .08!” Johnson tweeted.

“Twelve PBs set. Five national records set. And Cindy Sember quote after her PB/NR: ‘I thought I was running slow!’ All athletes looked shocked.

“Heat 2 we were first shown winning time of 12.53. Few seconds later it shows 12.43. Rounding down by .01 is normal. .10 is not.”

Amusan did look shocked after her record-breaking run, but African-American legend Johnson's comments did not go down well with some fans who accused the BBC analyst of 'racism'.

Johnson's comments about the blistering fast times recorded at the championships were labelled "dumb" by some users, who also accused him of discrediting Amusan's world record run.

“Why don’t you channel your energy to recovering from your stroke you Black racist!” one Twitter user wrote to Johnson.

“Tobi Amusan is a world record holder and there’s nothing you can do about that.”

Michael Johnson hits back over ugly criticism

Johnson responded to some of the outrage against him by tweeting: “The level of dumbassery coming across my feed right now is truly staggering!”

He later defended his role as a BBC pundit by insisting that it was his job to provide commentary on the World Athletics Championships.

Pictured left, American Olympic legend Michael Johnson commentating for the BBC at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon.
American Olympic legend Michael Johnson is seen here (L) commenting for the BBC at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon. Pic: Getty

“As a commentator my job is to comment,” Johnson wrote on Twitter.

“In questioning the times of 28 athletes (not 1 athlete) by wondering if the timing system malfunctioned, I was attacked, accused of racism, and of questioning the talent of an athlete I respect and predicted to win.

Unacceptable. I move on.”

For a moment it looked like the Amusan had broken the world mark twice in the space of two hours, but the Nigerian's winning time of 12.06 in the final was achieved with aid of an illegal 2.5 per second headwind.

Britany Anderson broke the Jamaican record twice in one day to claim the silver medal and reigning Olympic champ Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of the United States was third, with both minor medallists clocking 12.23.

with agencies

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