Hurdler Johnson misses first world championship team since '93

Updated: June 24, 2007, 5:34 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- A 36-year-old hurdler coming off assorted leg injuries and competing in his first competition of the season still gave the field reason to worry Sunday.

"You'd be foolish not to," Terrence Trammell said. "That's Allen Johnson. We all know what he's capable of. You take him very seriously."

But age and injuries caught up to Johnson at the U.S. track and field championships. The seven-time outdoor champion finished seventh, meaning he'll be watching the world championships in Osaka, Japan, in late August on television.

Trammell won the 110-meter race in 13.08 seconds, followed by Dominique Arnold (13.17) and David Oliver (13.18).

"It's a little (disappointing)," said Johnson, who hasn't missed competing at worlds since 1993. "It's like, 'What am I going to do now?' I'll have to watch to see how everybody does."

Johnson's first practice over the hurdles wasn't until Tuesday thanks to nagging injuries.

And yet he had the confidence Sunday to think he could still earn a spot. He thought he had a 13.20 time in him, but finished in 13.60.

"It was just too fast for me today," said Johnson, bothered by a sore left hamstring during the 2006 season.

That has got him thinking about a subject he doesn't want to contemplate -- retirement. His plan is to get healthy and compete at the Olympic Trials next summer.

"I feel like I have a lot left in me," said Johnson, who was a gold medalist at the 1996 Olympics. "The only reason why I think about (retirement) is because of how old I am and people around me keep bringing it up. Physically, I feel like I can do everything I did before. I still love this and still want to do it. I still have a lot of determination."

Trammell wants to see Johnson continue in the hurdles purely for selfish reasons.

"The longer he goes the longer I know I have to run," the 28-year-old Trammell said. "He took me under his wing, showed me a few things. But he wasn't going to show me everything. He still has some tricks up his sleeve.

"In my honest opinion, Allen can run as long as he chooses to. I trained under Allen, competed against Allen, I know his heart and determination. He ran at 12.96 last year (at the World Cup in Athens, Greece). His body is still capable of running fast."

After the race Sunday, Johnson grabbed his warmup gear and wished some of the hurdlers good luck before exiting.

"I'd like to think I have (a legacy in hurdles)," said Johnson, a four-time world outdoor champion. "I just try to do what the people that came before me did -- run fast, perform well and represent the U.S. well. Right now, I'm looking forward to going home and practice. I wish these guys well at worlds. I'll be watching them on television."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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