When was the last time you had 4 Americans AND 3 British athletes in a 400 meters Olympic or World Championship Final?
POP QUIZ: Who was the lone non-American and non-Brit in that race?
How is 4 athletes possible?
Enter the “Michael Johnson Rule” of 1997. When he strained his quad in the Donovan Bailey – Michael Johnson showdown in post Atlanta 1997, he missed the USATF Nationals which was the selection for Worlds. Since the IAAF knew he was a big draw for the meet, they amended the rule to allow past champions back. This is very similar to a Golf Major like the Masters or British Open.
MJ won that race in 44.12. Not bad considering injuring his quad on June 1 of that year.
6th IAAF World Championships In Athletics Athína 01/10-Aug-97
Official Results – 400 METRES – Men – Final
Tuesday, August 05, 1997 – 20:40
Pos Lane Athlete Country Mark
1 4 Johnson Michael USA 44.12
2 7 Kamoga Davis UGA 44.37 (NR)
3 3 Washington Tyree USA 44.39 (PB)
4 5 Richardson Mark GBR 44.47 (PB)
5 6 Young Jerome USA 44.51
6 2 Thomas Iwan GBR 44.52
7 8 Pettigrew Antonio USA 44.57 (SB)
8 1 Baulch Jamie GBR 45.22
Rewind back one year to 1996. We all know who won the 400m Gold in Atlanta. So who came second?
Roger Black, who is missing in the above list. Add him to the 4x400m relay pool, and …
Who the heck is Roger Black?
If you like Track & Athletics books, especially the 400 meters, then you’ll love his autobiography How Long’s the Course?. UK residents can buy it here from Amazon.co.uk. You can easily buy it used for a $0.01 plus shipping (see Amazon ad). That’s what I did.
His PB is 44.37 set in Lausanne prior to Atlanta 1996. His silver medal from Atlanta was one of the highlights in his long career.
Listen to the Podcast with Iwan Thomas for a great read on the GB rivalry (along with Jamie Baulch and Mark Richardson) back in the mid 1990’s. Where are they now?
Another big moment in Roger Black’s career was winning the 4x400m relay in 1991 in a rare defeat from the Americans.
His resume and longevity is impressive:
His initial 1986 Commonwealth Gold in the 400m, a Silver in the 1987 Rome WC 4x400m relay, the great 4x400m relay Gold in 1991 Tokyo WC (plus a Silver in the individual 400m), the 4x400m Bronze in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, two Silvers in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in both 400m and 4x400m relay, and finally the upgraded Gold medal in the 1997 Athens WC 4x400m relay thanks to the honesty of Antonio Pettigrew.
Roger Black was definitely NOT a “Flash in the Pan”… something or someone who disappoints by failing to deliver anything of value, despite a showy beginning.
ANSWER TO POP QUIZ: Davis Kamoga of Uganda 2nd in 44.37!