Johnson was plagued by injury in 1999, and his following season was troubled with two injury scares that limited him to just four 400 m races before the 1999 World Championships in Seville. He recovered and won his fourth 400 metre world title with a new world record time of 43.18 seconds at the relatively late age of 31 years and 11 months, which stood for nearly 17 years before being beaten at the 2016 Olympics by the South African Wayde van Niekerk.

Were it not for the IAAF policy established two years earlier for Johnson, that allowed automatic entry to defending champions, he could not have raced in Seville since he failed to compete in the U. Johnson's splits for this world record were 21.22 seconds for the opening 200 metres and 21.96 seconds for the closing 200 metres, giving a differential of 0.74 seconds.

At the 200 m final on August 1, Johnson ran the opening 100 metres in 10.12 seconds and finished the race in a world record time of 19.32 seconds, breaking by more than three tenths of a second the previous record he had set in the U. Olympic Trials, on the same track one month earlier—the largest improvement ever on a 200 m world record.

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Young had competed for the USA team in the heats and semi-final of this event.

Therefore, the United States team was stripped of the gold medal and Nigeria, Jamaica, and the Bahamas were moved up one position each.

The event was unsanctioned, and its unique course consisted of 75 metres of curved track and a 75-metre straight.

The race was billed as a competition for the title of "World's Fastest Man." However, Johnson failed to live up to expectations when he pulled up around the 100 metre mark, having injured his hamstring.

This was despite the fact that the 100 metres world record holder, at the time Donovan Bailey (Canada), was typically given that unofficial title.

In a much hyped competition in June 1997, he raced against Bailey in a 150-metre (164 yd) race at the Sky Dome in Toronto.

Johnson's stiff upright running position and very short steps defied the conventional wisdom that a high knee lift was essential for maximum speed.

As of 2012, Johnson holds 13 of the top 100 times for the 200 metres and 27 of the top 100 times for the 400 metres.

With that performance he qualified to run at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and prepared to attempt to win both the 200 metres and 400 metres events, a feat never before achieved by a male athlete.

(Two women have won Olympic gold medals in both races in the same year: Valerie Brisco-Hooks in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, and Marie-José Pérec, in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.) Johnson entered the Olympic finals donning a custom-designed pair of golden-colored Nike racing spikes made with Zytel, causing him to be nicknamed "The Man With the Golden Shoes." Sources differ on the exact weight of these shoes; the manufacturer of the spikes claims they weighed 3 ounces (85 g) each, On July 29, Johnson easily captured the 400 m Olympic title with an Olympic Record time of 43.49 seconds, 0.92 seconds ahead of silver medalist Roger Black of Great Britain.

Among his early collegiate feats, Johnson broke the school record for the 200 m in his very first race with a time of 20.41, and in 4 × 400 m relays he clocked a leg at 43.5. He did not qualify in the 400 m and he withdrew from the 200 m.