Michael Johnson in China

BEIJING, June 14 (AFP) - Five-time Olympic gold medal winner Michael Johnson started work Monday in his bid to make China’s athletes more competitive, but admitted that miracles would not happen overnight.
The low-profile American track legend, who holds world records in the 200m and 400m, is giving talks and trackside guidance to China’s Athens-bound Olympics team until Friday in a program sponsored by Nike.
As the first foreign coach to help train in China Idon't have the ability to transform Chinese track andfield overnight,'' he told reporters. This is a long process, but I hope to establishrelations with the athletes and to maintain therelations.
I hope I will be able to come back to China beforethe 2008 Games (in Beijing). I hope that my experiencewill give something new to Chinese athletes. I hope Ican make a contribution.'' Johnson will give lectures in the mornings then moveto the training ground in the afternoons. Mainly we want to listen to the athletes’ andcoaches’ ideas and exchange views with them, to find outwhat they need and want they want from us,’’ he said.
I'm not here to give them spiritual inspiration, Iwant to give concrete ideas on how to improvethemselves.'' China acknowledges there is a huge gap between thecountry's top level athletes and the world's best, butwith the Olympics in Beijing in 2008 it wants at leastto be on a more competitive footing. Its main medal hopefuls in Athens are top hurdler LiuXiang, who recently broke the Asian 110-meter hurdles,and women's long distance runner Sun Yingjie, a worldchampionship 5,000m bronze medallist. Johnson said he was impressed by Liu, fresh from anupset win over world champion Allen Johnson. He is young and has great potential,’’ said Johnson,who quit competition in 2001 after a distinguishedcareer in which he won five Olympic gold medals (3individual and 2 relays) and nine World Championshipgolds (6 individual and 3 in relays).
He also scored 58 consecutive victories over 400metres between 1990-1997.
The 36-year-old flew into Beijing late last week onhis own, in sharp contrast to the last American starsportsman in China, Michael Jordan, who jetted in lastmonth for a slick promotional tour that garnered hugeattention.