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Johnson's clocking of 19.32s (10.35 m/s) en route to breaking the 200 metre world record at the 1996 Olympics led some in the United States to consider him the fastest man in the world.In 1997 Johnson began appearing in Nike television advertisements in which he was billed as "World's fastest man" as a result of his 200 m world record.He formerly held the world and Olympic records in the 200 m and 400 m as well as the world record in the indoor 400 m. Johnson is generally considered one of the greatest and most consistent sprinters in the history of track and field.

Johnson hit his stride in his senior season, winning three of the four major 200 m events on the schedule, taking the 400 m at the USA Indoors Championship, and anchoring several winning relay teams.

Johnson graduated from Baylor in 1990 with a bachelor's degree in business, with the number one world ranking in both the 200 m and the 400 m.

This was despite the fact that the 100 metres world record holder, at the time Donovan Bailey (Canada), was typically given that unofficial title.

In a much hyped competition in June 1997, he raced against Bailey in a 150-metre (164 yd) race at the Sky Dome in Toronto.

Johnson ended his career at the Sydney Olympics by winning the gold medal in the 400 m, which brought his total number of Olympic gold medals to four.

By winning the 400 m at the age of 33 years 12 days, he earned the distinction of being the oldest gold medalist at any track event shorter than 5000 m in Olympic history.With that performance he qualified to run at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and prepared to attempt to win both the 200 metres and 400 metres events, a feat never before achieved by a male athlete.(Two women have won Olympic gold medals in both races in the same year: Valerie Brisco-Hooks in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, and Marie-José Pérec, in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.) Johnson entered the Olympic finals donning a custom-designed pair of golden-colored Nike racing spikes made with Zytel, causing him to be nicknamed "The Man With the Golden Shoes." Sources differ on the exact weight of these shoes; the manufacturer of the spikes claims they weighed 3 ounces (85 g) each, On July 29, Johnson easily captured the 400 m Olympic title with an Olympic Record time of 43.49 seconds, 0.92 seconds ahead of silver medalist Roger Black of Great Britain.Johnson was also the anchor of the United States 4x400 relay team along with Alvin Harrison, Antonio Pettigrew, and Calvin Harrison, which originally won the gold medal, but was later stripped of the title after Pettigrew and Jerome Young (who ran in the heats) were found guilty of having used performance-enhancing drugs.On July 18, 2004, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ruled that Jerome Young was ineligible to compete in Sydney and annulled all his past results, including those achieved as part of relay teams.The IAAF invented a new policy of giving a "bye" to the defending champions essentially to allow Johnson to compete in the IAAF World Championships that year, because Johnson was unable to qualify the conventional method (by competing in the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships) due to his injury from the race with Bailey. At the 1998 Goodwill Games in New York City, Johnson anchored the U. 4 × 400 m relay team with Jerome Young, Antonio Pettigrew, and Tyree Washington to a win and set a world record of .20.

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