Record-athlete Ben Johnson - biography, achievements, records and interesting facts

Canadian runner Ben Johnson has been involved in the sprint and track and field relay race since 1977. Participated in Los Angeles in 1984, where he won 2 bronze medals in the 100 m race and 400 m relay. In 1987, he set 4 world records in enclosed spaces, including a 9.83-second finish on the hundred-meter in Rome. In 1988, he participated in the Summer Olympics in Seoul and was the first in the 100m race, but after a positive test for the use of steroids, he was deprived of a gold medal with a ban on participating in competitions for 2 years. Restored of rights in 1990 and disqualified for life in 1993.


Ben Johnson Jr. was born in Jamaica on December 30, 1961 in Falmouth. This once thriving seaport, now experiencing difficult times, is located about 27 km east of Montego Bay.The Johnson family was quite successful, living in a nice house with a spacious yard. Ben Sr. engaged in repairing phones, bred chickens, ducks, cows, pigs, bees and grew vegetables. Mother Gloria worked as a cook and a waitress. Ben Jr. was the 5th of 6 children.

The child grew up outdoors, running and swimming in the ocean at every opportunity. According to him, the children took off everything and bathed naked the whole day, as wet clothes could give them away, and everyone would know what they were doing. But even then, his parents knew that he was swimming because sea salt remained on his black skin, and punishment was inevitable.

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According to Ben Johnson's mother, her son never went when he could run. As soon as she was distracted for a moment, he was already far away. Johnson's idols were the famous sprinters Donald Quarry from Jamaica and Heisley Crawford from Trinidad, but his elder brother Edward was the most direct inspirer. When Ben was still very young, his brother began training at the Conquerors club. Soon he began to work on informal street races. At school, Johnson was an average student who suffered from a speech defect.Teachers remembered him shy and withdrawn.

Emigration to Canada

In 1972, Johnson's mother decided that her children needed a better education. She had a friend who emigrated to Canada, so she boarded a plane and went to look for work. In the end, she got a place to cook and ferried Ben and his 3 brothers and sisters to a 2-room apartment in the suburbs of Toronto. According to Johnson, he left because Mom left. He did not know where he was going. For a while, Ben Sr. joined the family, but eventually returned to work at a Jamaican telephone company. Father and son remained on good terms, meeting on weekends and talking on the phone.

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The transition to a Canadian school was not easy for Ben Johnson. His Jamaican accent and stuttering led to additional classes. According to the athlete, he did not like to go to school. He managed to finish school, although his ability to read and math remained at an extremely basic level. Johnson's interests were different. In 1977, he joined Brother Edward, who was a member of the Scarborough Optimist Club. Both were trained by Charles Francis, who was a Canadian Olympic sprinter in the early 1970s. Young Johnson was not impressed.According to the coach, Ben was small for his age and so skinny that he looked 12 and not 14 years old.

When Ben started to train, he could barely run the circle without collapsing from exhaustion. But after 6 months of exercise, he gained 20 kg and 15 cm of height and became a formidable athlete. In 1978, Ben took 4th place in the 50-meter race at the National Athletics Championships in Montreal. In just 2 years, he came 2nd at the 100th Canadian Championship distance. By that time, Francis was truly delighted with his young ward, and they became close friends.

Ben Johnson's record

On the way to the top

In 1980, Ben Johnson met Superstar Karl Lewis for the first time at the junior championship in Sandbury, Ontario. Lewis then easily outstripped the Canadian, as he did over the next four years. Defeat and friendly, benevolent manner of the opponent fulfilled Johnson's determination to run faster. Francis advised patience, and Ben worked methodically, improving his time and building up his upper body. According to the coach, he never needed to learn something new. He performed perfectly all the basic sprint exercises for the hips, legs and arms.At 15, Johnson weighed only 42 kg. After 7 years, he became an 80-pound miracle, capable of lifting 150 kg while lying on the bench. However, he still could not defeat Lewis, who took 4 gold medals at the 1984 Olympics. These competitions disappointed Johnson. He was forced to be content with two bronze medals, while all public attention was given to the American.

Rivalry with Carl Lewis

The fight between Johnson and Lewis is increasingly inflamed. Both runners exchanged barbs in the press, predicting their opponent's defeat and shame. In 1985, the Canadian finally proved that he could beat his opponent when he won the world championship in Canberra. Over the next 2 years, athlete Ben Johnson dominated world competitions. In 1986, he was the first to reach the 100-meter distance at the Goodwill Games in Moscow with a record time of 9.95 seconds. The following year, he became the undisputed champion, setting 4 world indoor records with an absolutely stunning 9.83-second finish at the World Open in Rome. Dazzling victory with a meter separation from Lewis left no room for doubt: Ben Johnson was declared the fastest man on earth and declared the best athlete in Canada.

ben johnson runner record

Charges of doping

Even then, the American athlete suggested that a Canadian used drugs that increase the effectiveness of his performances. Johnson and his coaches have refuted this by saying that he successfully passed several tests after the competition. Indeed, a urine sample taken immediately after the race in Rome gave negative results, and most observers were confident that the Lewis charges were baseless. At the same time, Johnson faced other problems. He suffered from a hamstring injury and quarreled with Francis about her treatment. His schedule was overloaded with advertising of various products and participation in business meetings, the press questioned his amateur status, as he generously spent on luxury homes, sports cars and art objects. Johnson replied that he was successful and paid for everything himself.

Doping scandal

Johnson took part in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul as the main contender for winning the prestigious 100-meter race. As expected, he came to the finish line first, breaking his own record. Even the most oversized observers expressed surprise at his result of 9.79 s.But the runner’s fantastic record, Ben Johnson, was explained when a test after the race revealed traces of a banned anabolic steroid stanozolol in the athlete’s urine. In the course of the worst scandal in the history of the Olympic Games, he was deprived of a medal (it went to Lewis, who took 2nd place) and was removed from the competition. For a while, Johnson denied his guilt. Only after Francis testified in court, did the runner finally admit that he had been taking illicit drugs since 1981.

ben johnson athlete

The scandal was of great importance for amateur athletes throughout Canada, but the heaviest burden undoubtedly fell on the athlete himself. Officials discussed the abolition of his victory in 1987 in Rome, questioned the records of Ben Johnson. The sportsman’s advertising contracts have been canceled or not renewed after their expiration date. Johnson faced financial difficulties and after a 2-year hiatus he decided to go back and prove that he could win without the help of anabolic steroids. According to him, everything that he lost does not matter. The most important thing is health, and if he continued to take steroids, then his liver could suffer from side effects.

Second chance

His participation in the 1990 Olympiad showed the confidence of the Canadian government in him to represent his country. Runner Ben Johnson hired new coach Lauren Sigreyv and returned to work, becoming noticeably lighter and thinner than he was in 1988. Although he turned 30 in December 1991, the athlete predicted that he would go to the 1992 Olympic Games in Spain as a champion. He dedicated his speeches to his father, who died of a heart attack in 1989. Johnson retained a grudge against Carl Lewis, victory over which remained his number one goal. However, he did not make it to the finals of the 100-meter race - he was the last in the semifinal, stumbling over the starting block.

ben johnson sprinter

Lifetime suspension

In 1993, sprinter Ben Johnson won the race at 50 meters in French Grenoble, but was found to be in excess of testosterone levels and this time suspended for life. The sports minister called the athlete a shame of the nation and invited him to return to Jamaica. Due to procedural inaccuracies, the athlete had a third chance to return to the big sport. However, at the end of 1999, he was caught for the 3rd time while taking a prohibited diuretic hydrochlorothiazide, which masks the presence of other drugs. Moreover, since 1993He did not participate in the competition and was himself the initiator of the test.

Since the late 90s. he lived with his mother, and after her death from cancer in 2004, with his sister.

Johnson currently lives in Markham, Ontario, spending her time with her daughter and granddaughter. He works as a coach at the defender of the Montreal Canadiens hockey club PK Subbana.

ben johnson runner

Interesting Facts

In 1985, Johnson received the Norton Crowe Award as Best Athlete of the Year.

In 1987, he was awarded the Order of Canada and was named the athlete of the year by the Associated Press news agency.

In 1997, Ben Johnson worked as a football coach Diego Maradona.

In 1998, in Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island, he took part in a charity race against a thoroughbred racing horse, a trotter trotter and a racing car. Johnson came third.

In 1999, Muammar Gaddafi hired Johnson as a football coach to his son, who wanted to play in an Italian club. He was accepted, but after the first performance he was fired because of the positive result of the post-match doping control.

In May 2005, he launched a clothing line of his name under the slogan "Catch Me", but she did not enjoy success.

May 2017

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