Tuesday, 4 September 2012
REVIEW: MICHAEL JOHNSON-GOLD RUSH-WHAT MAKES AN OLYMPIC CHAMPION
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
It's 1992, the year of the Olympics 20 years ago. We're in Barcelona and Dream Team's and records are descending on Spain. An archer lights his bow with the Olympic flame, aims it at a cauldron and truly passes it, shooting towards the sky as he ignites the games with conviction and spectacle. The same conviction and spectacle that comes with the buzz and hype of a young runner by the name of Michael Johnson who's about to go the distance. Still some bad ham and some diminished speed and strength meant our Golden Shoes would have to burn through another four years before striking Gold in his home country in the '96 Atlanta games. After all, we all have a journey and a story to tell.
The 2012 London Olympics may nearly be over (Sigh! But at least the Paralympics are closing everything out perfectly) but that doesn't mean Michael Johnson's autobiography of sorts isn't still a great, inspiring read. In this 'Gold Rush' the record breaker and holder makes the case to answer the question 'What Makes An Olympic Champion'? Featuring testimony from the likes of Usain Bolt, Seb Coe, Steve Redgrave, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Cathy Freeman and Ian Thorpe (a young Thorpe's return from injury to Gold is truly inspired) and Johnson's own account of his success and failure.
If this years games has inspired you to take part in athletics or dust off that oar or cross-brow this motivating book would be a great start. From detailing his every move from out of the blocks to crossing the line head raised high M. Johnson takes us through the magic tricks of the trade that made him an Olympic champion and icon. Through "Olympic Fever" to the "Mental Games" and "Technique and DNA" Johnson chapter by chapter breaks down "Doing What It Takes To Win" in "The Heat Of Battle" with "No Shortcuts". Poignant and perfect this quick read (it really is a 'Rush') reads like Mike runs or pundits, quick, frank, detailed and to the point...the point of success.
This book served as the perfect warm-up for the buzz and excitement of this years games but still holds more than memory for the timeless quality after. This retired runner turned BBC pundit and honary Brit benefits us with inspired and intriguing interviews with the cream of the crop of Olympians, especially British ones as Sally Gunnell, Chris Hoy and Daley Thompson among others take part in this prose for positive reinforcement from the professionals.
When it comes to sport the stage doesn't get bigger than the Olympics and Olympians don't get much better than this 200 and 400 meter Gold crowned athlete. Therefore books about what makes an Olympic champion don't get bigger and better than 'Gold Rush'. The Times columnist whose first book-'How To Slay The Dragon' came with a forward from the greatest Muhammad Ali-writes another classic. From channeling the greats to drawing on his inner legend, Johnson's legacy extends from the track and field to the pen and paper.
The mind over matter man gives praise to everything including his personal life (one that makes a beautiful backstory) and scathes that, that is wrong (like cheating and drugs). Doing the right thing Michael Johnson gives us a memoir that serves as a manual to be the best and a true champion. It's a hard worked piece that mirrors his life and will have inspiration and influence for generations and Olympics to some. Now that's the gold.