Four-time 110m hurdles world champion and 1996 Olympic gold medallist Allen Johnson enjoyed a long career at the top of his game. The American sprint hurdling legend shares his wisdom.

1. Focus on the fundamentals

“I was in PE class in seventh grade when the teacher made us go back to practising the very fundamentals of that sport. I can’t even remember what sport it was, but it something that stuck with me throughout my track career.

“Those key fundamentals for the beginner are the foundation for performing consistently well at any sport, and it is something that remained true throughout my hurdles career.

“Every single year I tried to improve myself, but I didn’t try to reinvent myself over and over. I stuck to the core fundamentals of hurdling, which allowed me to be consistent.”

Allen Johnson ()

CONSISTENT: Johnson (l) won world indoor silver in 2008 – 15 years on from his first world championship crown

2. Improve through study

“I’m a firm believer in being very honest about and understanding what your strengths and weaknesses are. To achieve this, it is import to study your craft and be the best that you can, because it is the little things that make a difference.

“I started studying track in the tenth grade and it evolved from there. I paid attention to detail to understand the nuances of the sport.

“The one race I studied the most was Colin Jackson’s world record race of 12.91 in Stuttgart. I studied every movement of Colin in that race.”

Allen Johnson ()

SORRY MR JACKSON: 110m hurdles world crown number two came in 1997 ahead of WR holder Colin Jackson

3. Love the competition

“You have to have fun. Some people do track because they are good at it, some people do it because they can make money at it, but in the final analysis you have fun.

“I had a ball. If I could have run a track meet every single day, I would have. I loved the competition. For me, it was like going outside to play with my friends when we had running races to decide who was the fastest.

“I wanted to win. I didn’t want to lose. But above all I wanted to be part of those great races – even when I knew I was not as good as I once was. I still enjoyed the competition, the camaraderie and even the tension you had with some of your competitors.

“If, magically, at the age of 44, I could get into shape to run a 13.10 110m hurdles, I would compete again in a flash.”