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Ben Johnson Runs First Race In More Than 20 Years & Wins
June 12, 2013
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One of Canada's most famous (or infamous) Olympic athletes - Ben Johnson - has run his first competitive race in more than 20 years.

Johnson was back on the track last night anchoring a pro-am relay team at the Toronto International Track and Field Games at Varsity Stadium.

Hard to believe, but Johnson is now 51 and a grandfather.

But as Canadian Press reports, "he still looked strong, roaring down the track" as he ran the final leg to victory (by about 30 metres) - much to the delight of the crowd.

"I'm exhausted," Johnson told CP, laughing. "It's been a long time," he said. "If I knew that this (race) was going to happen, I would have trained myself two or three months ago."

Turns out, he only had about two weeks notice.

"I haven't trained properly for months and months," Johnson said. "I'm in good shape but my cardio is really bad, my breathing is pretty bad. My running style is OK, just the breathing, I have to get back used to it again."

After the event, Johnson posed for photos with fans, including children who weren't even born when he won gold in the 100 metre final at the 1988 Olympics. He ran a world record 9.79 seconds, only to be stripped of his medal after a positive drug test.

For old time's sake, here's that race as called by a CBC legend - the late Don Wittman.

"I've got lots of fans, it's just a few people in track and field who don't like me," Johnson said.

"I've got great fans everywhere. It's good for the young generation to recognize me and know who Ben Johnson was, a little bit of history."

Johnson said he trains at York University once in a while, does some coaching, and is involved in business.

He's mostly stayed out of the public eye except for last year's documentary '9.79' in the highly acclaimed ESPN '30 for 30' series.

The film explored whether Johnson was alone in doping, and was simply the one who got caught - as six of the eight men in that race have since been implicated for drugs.

Here's the trailer.

When asked about whether the film would help redeem his image, Johnson said "It was all politics and corruption - money, you know? That's what it was all about."

By the way, the National Post has photos of Johnson's race from last night.

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