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  • Tommie SMITH versus Michael JOHNSON...

    These were certainly the two most sensational
    all-time quarter milers. Almost unbeatable as
    they reigned on tracks.
    The legendary Bud WINTER who was Tommie's coach,
    explained that if he had specifically trained
    for 400m, his phenomenon would have easily been
    the first athlete to run a sub-43" 400m!!!...
    Unbelievable but probably true just because he
    was said to be the perfection.
    And let's imagine a Tommie SMITH at the top
    expression of his athletic potential racing
    against a top bionic Michael JOHNSON on 400m.
    An impossible dream duel...
    I am not sure Michael Johnson would win.
    What are your opinions?

  • #2
    Re: Tommie SMITH versus Michael JOHNSON...

    Michael would have won at 400, the better race would have been at 200. That was Tommie's best distance.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Tommie SMITH versus Michael JOHNSON...

      Close but no cigar for Michael Ts would be alittle too much. Why? later!!!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Tommie SMITH versus Michael JOHNSON...

        MJ over TS at both distances. Both had excellent performances early in their respective careers. Michael was able to continue to signigficantly improve his performances throughout an exteded career, which is something that is very difficult to do. While we will never know for sure, it seems unlikely that TS would have improved throughout his career. MJ's improvement after starting at such a high performance level in college is certainly unusual.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Tommie SMITH versus Michael JOHNSON...

          What makes this and similar discussions so difficult (and some would say delightful, others would say meaningless) is that there's no way to tell what TS would have done if MJ had been around at the same time. TS did what he had to do to be the best in the world when he was running. MJ ran faster, but with better tracks and a few other such details working in his favor. Having seen them both, I'd say MJ at his best beats TS at his best. But does he beat him in real life if TS knows MJ is out there and knows what he can do and so he (TS) has to go to another level to be the best? Can he go to that level, as he went to the level he had to get to in his day in order to be the best? I've no idea and neither does anyone else.

          By the way, if I had to choose the race in which TS would have the better chance in this fictitious race, I'd say it was the 400.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Tommie SMITH versus Michael JOHNSON...

            View both races, and look at both running styles.

            MJ's 19.32s WR from 1996 Atlanta,GA OG Men's 200m final:
            http://los.idx.com.au/200mwr.zip

            From a different angle:
            http://los.idx.com.au/200mwr_diffangle.zip

            Tommie Smith's 19.83s ex-WR from 1968 Mexico City OG Men's 200m final:
            http://los.idx.com.au/1968_200m.zip

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Tommie SMITH versus Michael JOHNSON...

              Its not possible to compare the two because MJ's skills were honed to a much sharper edge than TS. Back in Smith's day track and field athletes did not train full time year around. How long was Tommie Smith's track career? There couldn't have been that many competitions in his whole life where he was in top shape and truly motivated. Johnson on the other hand made a science of competing at very high levels over a great period of time.

              Add in all the other intangibles-- nutrition, track surfaces, financial incentives, etc., and it just makes it too hard to compare. In terms of raw talent, though, it's hard to imagine any long sprinter with more than Smith.

              One thing that has to be taken with a grain of salt, though, is Bud Winter's statement that Smith could run under 43.0 if properly trained. It may be true, but you have to be a little wary of predictons coaches make about their athletes or that athletes make about themselves. Having goals is great, but they are still only goals until they are acheived.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Tommie SMITH versus Michael JOHNSON...

                As suggested by "The King" I looked at the 1968 200m race. Two overriding impressions.
                (1) What a tremendous finishing burst by Peter Norman - he seemed to be about 5-6 m down on Carlos with 100 m to go. (2) T Smith appears to ease up at least 6 strides before the finishing line. This means the last ~15 m of the race, and not the last ~ 5 m as most written sources state.
                In idealized races between Michael Johnson and TS, I would say that to win the 200m, TS would need a great start - too much to make up otherwise with a poor start (not uncommon for TS). I would prefer TS's chances in a 400 m race, but only in a final (i.e. single race). MJ had strength as well as speed/endurance, to go through heats/semis etc.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Tommie SMITH versus Michael JOHNSON...

                  >As suggested by "The King" I looked at the 1968
                  >200m race. Two overriding impressions.
                  (1) What
                  >a tremendous finishing burst by Peter Norman - he
                  >seemed to be about 5-6 m down on Carlos with 100
                  >m to go.>>

                  Don't overlook the fact that w/ 50-60m to go Carlos (even by his own admission) basically gave up once he saw that he couldn't beat Smith. Norman didn't increase his speed at all, he just slowed down less than most of the rest and weay less than Carlos did.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Tommie SMITH versus Michael JOHNSON...

                    Yeah, I had forgotten how dis-spirited Carlos looked down the stretch. He keeps turning to see the rest of the field and gazing at TS moving away as if he can't quite believe it. And TS coasts in... this reinforces my pro-TS bias.

                    If Tommie and MJ had enjoyed the same level of coaching, the same levels of financial rewards and incentives, stayed injury free and sustained careers over the same number of years, and if, as a previous post indicates, it were one finals race,(knowing that those are all big "if's") I'd bet the farm on TS over either distance. MJ was stronger by any measure, but TS was just plain faster than MJ.

                    By the way, how fast was Carlos' disputed run at the Tahoe Trials with the infamous brush spikes, and how come those shoes were deemed illegal? Would they still be illegal by modern definitions?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Tommie SMITH versus Michael JOHNSON...

                      >>By the way, how fast was Carlos' disputed run at the Tahoe Trials with the infamous brush spikes, and how come those shoes were deemed illegal? Would they still be illegal by modern definitions?>>

                      As I understand the definition, would still be illegal. He ran 19.92.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Tommie SMITH versus Michael JOHNSON...

                        Leading up to Atlanta while I regarded MJ as the top 400m runner of all time I ranked him behind Tommie Smith and a couple others as the best 200m runner of all time. The race was such a stunner that few people remember that he didn't go undefeated that year.

                        It is unfortunate that the track was never used again as it robs us of the opportunity to assess how much of an impact the surface (arguably the fastest of all time) had on the WR performance.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Tommie SMITH versus Michael JOHNSON...

                          One tough thing about trying to play with a TS/MJ matchup is luck of the draw. Who gets what lane? This isn't like the 100, or a mile, where it makes no difference.

                          If TS gets a tighter lane than MJ, he probably can't beat him. MJ inside TS and MJ might win. MJ a couple of lanes inside TS and I don't think so. Put Tommie in lane 8 and it's all over.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Tommie SMITH versus Michael JOHNSON...

                            >the infamous brush spikes . . . how come those shoes were deemed illegal? <<

                            If you owned a track, you wouldn't ask that question. It's my understanding that those brush spikes produced unacceptable wear and tear on the artificial surfaces they were designed for. Great for the runners perhaps, but terrible for people who invested in tracks and didn't want to have to re-surface them very frequently.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Tommie SMITH versus Michael JOHNSON...

                              >As suggested by "The King" I looked at the 1968
                              >200m race. Two overriding impressions.
                              (1) What
                              >a tremendous finishing burst by Peter Norman - he
                              >seemed to be about 5-6 m down on Carlos with 100
                              >m to go. (2) T Smith appears to ease up at least
                              >6 strides before the finishing line. This means
                              >the last ~15 m of the race, and not the last ~ 5
                              >m as most written sources state.
                              In idealized
                              >races between Michael Johnson and TS, I would say
                              >that to win the 200m, TS would need a great start
                              >- too much to make up otherwise with a poor start
                              >(not uncommon for TS). I would prefer TS's
                              >chances in a 400 m race, but only in a final
                              >(i.e. single race). MJ had strength as well as
                              >speed/endurance, to go through heats/semis etc.


                              From my 50Hz Video-Tape of the race which I own.
                              I have found the following splits for both TS & Peter Norman for each 100m (100m splits)

                              50Hz Video-Tape (50 frames/s)
                              1968 Mexico City OG Men's 200m final.

                              Wind: +

                              Tommie Smith (USA)
                              100m: 10.52s
                              200m: 19.83s
                              100m splits:
                              10.52s/9.,31s = 19.83s(WR)

                              Peter Norman (AUS)
                              100m: 10.70s
                              200m: 20.06s
                              100m splits:
                              10.70s/9.36s = 20.06s (NR)

                              Obviously altitude has helped the latter part of the race (the final 100m/the home strecth)


                              Your comments about TS catious start, did not reflect his start in the final.

                              He seems to react well to the gun, but in post-race ineterviews he mentioned that he had to conserve more energy than usual on the bend, because he tore his addcutor in the Semi.
                              And then his speed at around 140-150m is great.
                              Just like Bob Hayes in the previous OG (Tokyo '64 Men's 4x1 relay final, hand-timed anchor of 8.6s on a cinder track)...

                              After the Semi-final he mentioned that he tore his adductor, and he was certain that 'he was out for the final'...

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