Patrick Johnson 400m ???


CATHY Freeman would like to see Australia’s fastest man, Patrick Johnson, step up to run the 400 metres.
She believes the Australian 100m recordholder may be capable of winning an international medal in the event she once dominated.
It could be very exciting, with what he's capable of,'' Sydney Olympic gold medallist Freeman told The Daily Telegraph yesterday. I’d like to see him run a 400m.’’

It would be the most exciting athletics coaching experiment in Australia _ if not globally _ because no sub-10sec 100m star has ever made a serious attempt to master the gruelling 400m.
Patrick certainly flows over the ground, so he has the movement efficiency needed for the 400m,'' said Freeman, whose greatest asset was probably her ability to stay relaxed throughout a race known for turning legs to stone. Marion Jones and Melinda [Gainsford-Taylor] were 100m and 200m specialists but even they ran the 400m occasionally. It’s not that radical a move,’’ she added. ``And it’s a nice dimension to add. It gives you a mental edge, you learn about strength and control.’’
Johnson is the Australian 100m recordholder with his time of 9.93sec which was the fastest in the world in 2003.
He was a 200m finalist at last year’s world athletics championships and a finalist in both 100m and 200m at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
Yet he has not yet won an international medal in an individual race and, at 31, time is running out.
That blemish needs to be remedied and a move up to the 400m could provide the answer.

If Johnson and his current coach, 400m expert Tudor Bidder, are contemplating a foray into the 400 leading up the 2008 Beijing Olympics they aren’t admitting it.
Bidder refused to talk on the subject when approached by The Telegraph as they prepare to compete in Europe next month.
But Ric Mitchell, the 1980 Moscow Olympic 400m silver medallist _ the only Australian man to have won an Olympic medal in the event _ said he’s been saying for five years Johnson’s best event may be the 400m.
I'd love to see him run the 400m. He'd certainly put the cat among the pigeons,'' Mitchell said. Mitchell believes Johnson will not win medals at 100m because his start remains inconsistent and his form falters under pressure in the shortest sprint. He’s so hit and miss off the blocks. You can’t give 9.8sec opponents, much less 9.7 men, a two-metre headstart and expect to run them down over the last 80 metres,’’ Mitchell said.
However Peter Norman, the 1968 Olympic silver medallist at 200m, believes Johnson will protect his territory as Australia's fastest man'' _ even though Joshua Ross has beaten him to win the last three national 100m titles. If Patrick’s going to come in to the 400m he’s going to come in at the bottom of the ladder, beneath the top six men who have figured in the Athens Olympic silver medal winning 4x400m relay and the Melbourne Games gold medal winning team,’’ Norman said yesterday.
Patrick's going to have to do something fairly spectacular to get noticed ahead of any of them, particularly the likes of John Steffensen who really has potential. I’d certainly like to see Patrick do it, but it would be a big sacrifice for him to give up what he’s got in Australia.
``Under the present selection criteria he could get trips from now until he’s 47. But it’s a different story in the 400m.’’

Patrick Johnson competing in 2006