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Johnson's message for Team GB

VIEWS: Michael Johnson

LEGENDARY ATHLETE and four-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Johnson has offered some words of advice to the British athletes gearing up for London 2012: Enjoy this rare opportunity

The American, once dubbed ‘the world’s fastest man’ knows exactly how it feels to triumph on home soil. Having won his first Olympic gold in the 4x400m relay at Barcelona 1992, he then went on to win gold in the 200m and 400m at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, making history in the process as the first man to win both these events at the same Games.

“I was able to do it in Barcelona and Sydney as well, but doing it in Atlanta, standing on that podium and having achieved success in front of the home crowd, is a much different feeling and a much different memory,” the 44-year-old remembers fondly.

“All these athletes will understand that an Olympics at home is extremely significant and a rare opportunity. Most athletes never, ever get an opportunity to take part in an Olympics at home. I spoke to Steve Redgrave recently, who won five Olympics – but none at home. Had I come along 10 years later than I did, then I could still have gone to three Olympics without having one at home."

Johnson, who also became the only man to successfully retain his 400m Olympic title at Sydney 2000 and still holds the world and Olympic record in this event, warned that the home factor should not be a reason to be overawed. Johnson urged Team GB to approach it like any other event.

“It all depends how you choose to use that [the partisan crowd]. I chose not to worry about that, and I actually planned for that, to make sure that I was not affected by it. I didn't allow myself to think about 'what's going to happen when the Games are over?' There's nothing in that that's healthy and there's nothing in that that's going to help me to be successful with the task in front of me.

"Thinking about that isn't going to do anything for me in terms of the task at hand. I'm still going to have seven other athletes who are going to line up against me in the final. I've got three elimination rounds to get through to get to that final, in each one of my races. That's what I chose to focus on in those days leading up to the Games.”

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