The moment has been immortalized in Olympic history. Michael Johnson, backpedaling, his arms outstretched and his mouth agape, gold sneakers — the image of a man reveling in triumph and accomplishment.
Johnson, a Baylor graduate, already claimed the title of World's Fastest Man entering the 1996 Olympics. He lived up to the nickname by winning gold in the 200 meter-sprint and 400-meter sprint, setting world records in both.
And he did so in style.
Four years after sprinting into the consciousness of fans around the world in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Johnson was the story leading up to the Atlanta Games.
Expected to star in the 200 and 400 meters, Johnson himself played into the hype by donning gold track shoes.
"I'm going for gold so I want the shoe to be gold," Johnson recalled in an interview with USA Track and Field in 2016.
Pressure was external and internal. Already a gold medal winner in 1992, Johnson would have been viewed as a disappointment if he did not live up to anticipation.
He quelled concerns quickly — literally and figuratively.
On the night of July 29, in the 400 meters, Johnson won his first gold medal with a world record-setting time of 43.49 seconds.
Three nights later, Aug. 1, Johnson earned his second gold of the Games by finishing the 200 meters in a world record time of 19.32 seconds.
History was made. Belief was transformed into reality.
"I'm proud of being remembered as someone who changed the sport in terms of what's possible," Johnson told The Telegraph in 2012. "People thought it wasn't possible to be a champion at 200 meters and at 400 meters. What I did changed sprinting and how people looked at sprinters."
Johnson competed once more, in the 2000 Games. He won his fourth gold in the 400 meters, and was part of the 4x400 relay team that had its gold medal stripped when it was revealed that two members of the team, Antonio Pettigrew and Jerome Young, used performance-enhancing drugs.