On this day: Michael Johnson breaks 200m world record

On this day: Johnson breaks world record
© PA Photos
Seventeen years ago today, America's Michael Johnson set a new record over 200m.

It had seemed for a long while that Pietro Mennea's record over 200m was perhaps never going to be beaten.

The Italian's time of 19.72 seconds, set during the World University Games of 1979, had proved elusive to those who had tried to break it, thanks largely to the fact that it was achieved on the high-altitude track of Mexico City.

However, back in 1996, a 28-year-old American by the name of Michael Johnson was starting to show that he was up for the challenge.

He went close during the semi-final of his nation's Olympic trials, but was eventually able to end Mennea's 17-year stint on top in the final of that event on this very day.

His 6'1" frame got out off the blocks quickly and he went on to cross the line with the clocking flashing up 19.66 seconds.

Johnson would go on to break his own record just two months later at the Olympics in Atlanta. On this occasion he smashed it, shaving more than three tenths of a second off his time by posting a time of 19.32 seconds.

It was a record that stood until Usain Bolt broke it with a 19.30 in Beijing back in 2008, before extending that to 19.19 a year later.

Usain Bolt
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