Michael Johnson and Gwen Torrence
Michael Johnson, considered the greatest long sprinter in the history of track and field, and Gwen Torrence, one of America’s best and most versatile women sprinters of all time, have been named the Drake Relays overall Men’s and Women’s Athletes of the Century.
The duo combined to win 14 Drake Relays individual titles, while setting four Drake Relays records.
They join 18 other track and field athletes who were recognized earlier. Together, the entire group combined to win 99 individual Drake Relays titles, while setting 41 Drake Relays records in the process.
All 20 Drake Relays Athletes of the Century will be honored during a gala event which is open to the public on Thursday, April 23, at 7:30 p.m. at the Drake Knapp Center.
The 100th running of the Drake Relays will be April 22-25 at Drake Stadium.
A three-time Olympian, Johnson won four gold medals. He is the only male athlete in history to win the 200 and 400 at the same Olympics, accomplishing the feat in 1996 when he set a then world record in the 200 (19.32).
He also owns the current world record in the 400 of 43.18 in 1999. He became the only man to repeat as Olympic 400 champ when he won gold in 2000. Johnson accumulated nine gold medals at world championship meets, the most of any athlete in history.
Johnson captured six individual Drake Relays titles, while anchoring Baylor to four relay victories, (special 200-1988, 1992, 1993, 1997; special 400-1991, 1996). He ran anchor legs on Baylor’s winning 4×200 (1987, 1990) and 4×400 relays (1989, 1990) at the Drake Relays.
He still owns Drake Relays records in the men’s special 200 (20.05, 1997) and 400 (44.41, 1996). Johnson was named outstanding performer of the 1996 and 1997 Drake Relays and was inducted into the 1996 Drake Relays Hall of Fame.
Torrence won medals at every major athletics competition, including the Olympics, outdoor and indoor world championships. She was a five-time Olympic medalist, winning three gold medals in the 200 (1992), 4×100 relay (1992, 1996).
She also won the gold medal in the 4×400 relay at the 1993 World Outdoor championships and in the 100 at the 1995 World Outdoor Championship.
Torrence burst on to the track scene at the 1984 Drake Relays. She went on to win more Drake Relays career titles (eight) than any female performer.
She won the invitational 100 in 1984, 1985 and 1987, while capturing the invitational 200 in 1994 and 1996. Torrence also won the invitational 400 in 1991, 1992, and 1995.
After winning the invitational 400 in 1995, Torrence began her victory lap by hurling her shoes into the stands to celebrate becoming Drake Relays career victory leader.
She was inducted into the 1993 Drake Relays Hall of Fame.
During her collegiate career at Georgia, Torrence sprinted to an unprecedented four NCAA championships in 1986-87 in the indoor 55 (twice) and outdoor 100 and 200.