Aug. 25, 2004
ATHENS, Greece – No one is a lock for a medal at the Olympic Games – even the defending world champion. Last night it was the 100m hurdles 2003 World Champion that didn’t finish her final race last night after crashing into a hurdle. Tonight – it was the second round of the 110m hurdles and the victim was none other than USC volunteer coach Allen Johnson.
Johnson was gracious as anyone in the world would be at this point and probably even more than anyone could ever ask for. He won the Olympic medal and lined-up injured to finish fourth in 2000. In between all that, he has won four world 110m hurdle titles and one world title with the 4x400m relay.
Johnson reflected on his race to USCSPORTS.COM shortly after the race. And below so did USC Head Coach Curtis Frye, Johnson’s personal coach and the USA women’s assistant coach. Frye has plenty on his plate as he prepares for the prelims of the 4x100m relay Thursday night.
USC: What happened in your race?
AJ: I hit the fourth hurdle and was a bit off balance. But, I got it back together and hit one of the next hurdles. I thought I would be OK but then caught my spike and flew through the next hurdle on my stomach. My race plan was that I just wanted to maintain and advance. The plan was to go out there and win the race and advance. Then when I hit the fourth hurdle I thought I would just finish the race and advance, regardless of place.
USC: In your race were two outstanding hurdlers in Stanislov Olijars and Olympic champion Anier Garcia. Did that cross your mind – how stiff the competition was?
AJ: Oh definitely. I thought that everybody was running well and that’s how it is – you are at the Olympic Games and you try to put your best foot forward. You know you have to race each one like it’s a final.
USC: What did you think when you fell to the ground?
AJ: I was like – ‘oh my God I can’t believe it – it’s over’. There was a bit of humor in it really – when I was sliding across the ground I was thinking ‘when am I going to stop, when am I going to stop?’ I accepted it then when I hit the ground that it was over and I was done here.
USC: You take a couple days to rest and where do you go from here?
AJ: You have to look at it like it’s just another race. You have to put it behind you. You put it behind you and you feel like it’s over. I just have to get ready for Berlin. And I will run the Grand Prie final in September. It’s just another race. Those two races after that – I have to put this behind me.
USC: When you saw the world champion woman (from Canada) fall last night in the 100m hurdles did you think about that?
AJ: Oh yes. You think about it – the woman’s favored and she falls down and I thought let’s make sure that doesn’t happen to me – but it did and I have to move on now.
USC: What happened to Allen?
CF: He just got out slow and then made up a lot of room and started running up on hurdles. It was one time when he just didn’t react. There were a lot of great hurdlers in the race and he did what the woman from Canada did last night. I am so thankful he is healthy and other than that we just had a horrible night as far as Allen is concerned.
It’s very difficult to do two jobs – coach the USA and be a personal coach here. The USA had a great night tonight and then this. He is a great champion. He will get up and survive and he will win again. That is a wonderful young man. I want to try and fix it but you can’t it’s over.
USC: What did you say to him after the race?
CF: I just asked him was he ok and as long as he’s ok I told him to go ahead and go call his daughter. He knows how disappointed she will be but he wanted to let her know that life goes on and Daddy is gonna be alright and life goes on. We all wish him the best of luck. While he is from Virginia, went to North Carolina, we have adopted him in Columbia, South Carolina. We consider him one of our’s so we are crushed. But he will be back.