So what’s the deal with you Americans claiming that Michael Johnson is the ‘Fastest Man Alive’? Historically, that title always went to the winner of the 100M dash. Along comes Michael Johnson, who wins the 200, and suddenly he’s “The Fastest Man Alive”?
All kinds of pseudo-justifications came out for this. The most common being that his average speed was higher than that of the 100M runner. Well, duh. The 100M runner has to accelerate from 0, and then only has maybe 80M left to make up the time. The 200M runner gets 180M to make up that time. If you measure the PEAK speed, the 100M sprinter (in this case, Canadian Donovan Bailey), is faster. In other words, the fastest man alive is the guy who can push his body to the highest speed. And of course, that’s the only measure that makes sense. If you want to use average speed, Johnson would lose to the Boston Marathon winner.
Finally, because Canada was so pissed off about this (and because both runners got paid a giant whack of cash), they agreed to have a run-off to determine who was really faster. I think they settled on an intermediate distance of 150M or something.
Anyway, at the start of the race Johnson was getting his ass kicked badly and way far behind when suddenly he quit the race and limped off, claiming he pulled something. He refused to race Bailey again.
Now tonight I see another program on TV (Extreme Machines on TLC), and they have a complete section on Michael Johnson, claiming once again that he is the fastest man alive.