Category Archives: FEATURES
This SPECIAL FEATURE STORY was CULLED from the THOUGHT REVOLUTION(TR) MAGAZINE. Subscribe HERE.
With a rivalry not dissimilar to that of F1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Laude, the story of Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis is one of controversy, jealousy, success and ultimately failure.Having dominated track and field events for seven years, American athlete, Carl Lewis found a sprinting challenger at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Canadian athlete, Ben Johnson. Johnson received a bronze medal in 1984 as against Lewis’ gold, but that was only the beginning of the rivalry.
After eight consecutive losses, Johnson finally beat Lewis in 1985, and by the end of 1986 he had leap-frogged him to become the number one ranked sprinter in the world. Johnson went on to set two consecutive 100m world records at the 1987 World Championships and the 1988 Olympic Games, winning two Olympic bronze medals and the coveted Olympic gold at the summer games in 1988. Lewis, who had previously set world records in the 100metre sprint and the 4x100metre and 4x 200metre relays, began trying to justify his losses, blaming first a false start, then a stomach bug, and, in 1987, he cited drug use in the sport.
After Johnson’s gold medal winning summer Olympics in 1988, he tested positive for steroids, and his title was subsequently rescinded, instead handed to Lewis. Johnson later admitted to using steroids during his 1987 World Championship win, and lost that title as well. All of his world accolades went with it. Carl Lewis then went on to tally up 10 Olympic medals, 9 of them gold, and 10 World Championship medals. He was named as Olympian of the Century by Sports Illustrated, and is arguably the most successful Olympic athlete of all time.
Johnson’s fall from grace ultimately led to Lewis’ heroism, it has been noted that Lewis didn’t begin his anti-drugs campaign until after he had been beaten by Johnson. It has been suggested that Lewis somehow orchestrated Johnson’s failed drugs test, but this has never been proven. Eventually we must learn from the lessons from this story: no matter how successful you are; take one wrong step and it could all disappear. Carl Lewis stayed true to the game and success returned to him, Ben Johnson was not so lucky.
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