Home A Column By Len Johnson

A Column By Len Johnson

Len Johnson wrote for The Melbourne Age as an athletics writer for over 20 years, covering five Olympics, 10 world championships and five Commonwealth Games.

He has been the long-time lead columnist on RT and is one of the world’s most respected athletic writers.

He is also a former national class distance runner (2.19.32 marathon) and trained with Chris Wardlaw and Robert de Castella among other running legends. He is the author of The Landy Era.

The runaway train that is the Change Express continues to cut a swathe through the athletics world. Having shunted race walking into a siding last time out, the train careered on in the direction of the Diamond League. Perhaps not surprisingly given the locomotive’s near-warp speed, the major casualty on...
A column by Len Johnson The IAAF Council is considering whether to adopt its new rankings system as the method for qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at its meeting this weekend (9-10 March). At the moment the proposal is on the back-burner. The wisest decision the learned men and...
A column by Len Johnson The world cross-country is coming to Australia, just the second time in its history the championships will have been contested in this part of the world. To say that I am happy about that would be a gross understatement. It was announced this week that the...
Runner's Tribe At the Muller Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham last weekend (16 February), Joseph Deng set an Australian record in winning the 800 metres in 1:47.27. Or did he? According to the records section of Athletics Australia’s website, the mark Deng bettered was the 1:47.48 by Ryan Foster in 2010. All...
There have been exciting advances on the Australian indoor all-time list in recent weeks. A number of athletes – including Stewart McSweyn, Morgan McDonald, Ollie Hoare and Jessica Hull – have produced performances putting them among the top Australians ever. McDonald ran 7:42.76 for 3000 metres at New York’s famous...
There is a Chinese curse which goes, “May you live in interesting times.” What seems to be a blessing, in fact, drips irony, the underlying implication being that un-interesting times denote peace and tranquillity. Interesting times, by contrast, are marked by disorder and conflict. In a similar sense, Harry Summers is...
The Dubai marathon has been going 20 years now. It’s about time I made up my mind about it. For most of those years, Dubai has produced outstanding times. The 2019 edition certainly did – Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya’s 2:17:08 was the third-fastest marathon ever by a woman. In second...
Journalists everywhere love a cliché. Each well-worn phrase (see what I did there?) represents a few precious words of the 600-or-so length of most stories that they don’t have to think of for themselves. The more sophisticated practitioners disguise their superfluity by a ready resort to adjectives. Sports journalists are...
If you’ve been paying the slightest attention to this column over the years, you have probably worked out that I’m a big fan of the annual Track & Field News rankings. There’s lots of rankings lists going round now – imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, and all that...
One of many things that thwart my irregular attempts at ‘cleaning up’ – apart from getting started at all – is that, inevitably, I discover something that re-piques my interest. I start reading anew and, before I know it, it’s: “Wow, is that the time,” and the period allocated to...