This is Part 2 of my Orlando-Clermont trip. Part 1 was interviewing Dennis Mitchell.
If you are a Track and Field fan, then Brooks Johnson needs no introduction.
His first Olympian was back in 1960 with 110 meter hurdles silver medalist Willie May,
50 years later, he has coached an athlete at every Olympics since 1968. They include stars such as Evelyn Ashford and Chandra Cheesborough as coach of the USA women’s team for the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles. More recently, he was the head relay coach on the 2008 Men’s Olympic team.
His short list of athletes today include hurdler David Oliver, sprinter Consuela Moore, and para-olympian April Holmes, just to name a few.
I really admired his coaching style, probably because it reminded me of my McGill days with Coach Dennis Barrett. He started track practice at 10am. That meant 10am. Not 10:02am. Not 10:05am.
But he begins with a 10-15 minute “pep” talk. If he catches you “texting” during his talk, he’ll point your finger at you and ask you to repeat what he said.
His first coaching wisdom is, "Do your job, don’t be confident, just execute".
In regards to the 100m and 110m high hurdles, he says any good hurdler can run the first 60 meters or 5 sticks and be with the others. It’s the last 5 sticks or 40 meters that determines whether or not you make the podium. Take your best 60 meter hurdle time, add 5.5 seconds, and you got yourself a medal, every time. David Oliver’s 60mH season’s best range from 7.61 in 2006 to 7.37 in 2011. You can do the math.
That being said, those last 40m or 5.5 seconds require… you guessed it… speed endurance!
Here is my interview with Brooks Johnson on Vimeo.