Jonathan Johnson: From Abilene to Athens - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

8/22/04

Jonathan Johnson: From Abilene to Athens

Texas Tech track star Jonathan Johnson runs against the best in the world this week in Athens.

"Jonathan don't like to lose. Jonathan likes to win," said his mother, Mary Johnson.

"He's so deep into concentration before the race he really don't want to talk to anybody," said his step father, Kenneth Neal.

"He's probably the strongest 800 meter runner in the world," said Randy Martin, Johnson's former high school coach.

"I'm excited, but I'm scared too," said his mom.

Jonathan Johnson is the fastest thing to fly through West Texas since the 1970 tornado.

"I feel like J's gonna win that gold medal. I really do believe in my heart that he's gonna get it," his mom said.

She's believed in his speed for about seven years now. That's the last time she raced him and won.

"One day, I got out there with Jonathan and I said, 'I'm gonna beat you.' I beat him the first time. The second time, he beat me, so I gave it up. I couldn't beat him no more," she smiled.

Of course, beating mom might be fun, but there's a price to be paid.

"We used to run all the time," said Jonathan's brother Marcus. He remembers mom's penny-pinching running remedies. "We used to run to the store for my mom, that's how we always conserved on gas. I'm sorry, I'm laughing," he chuckled.

The store was a mile away, half the distance he'll be running in the Olympics. His speed is insane. Two laps of the track in 1 minute and 44 seconds, faster than ice cream melts on a run to the store.

At the Olympic trials, he beat the favorite by nearly a full second.

"We knew back in eighth grade that he was going to be pretty good," said coach Martin.

At his old high school, the sign out front is wishing him luck.

"He benches like 350 pounds and squats nearly 600, so he's just so strong and he works so hard. If anything, that's his advantage. He just hates to lose," he said.

And so does mom, who'll be sitting in the stands watching her son race to the Olympic medal store.

"It's awesome. I wish I was out there running with him," she beamed.

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