A new BBC documentary about Usain Bolt—hosted by fellow sprinter Michael Johnson—adoringly mentions the man Bolt beat to claim the "fastest man alive" crown....Michael Johnson! Not mentioned: The one guy who was actually faster than Johnson.
We have not seen the documentary, but it is reportedly based on this premise: "Who better to investigate [Bolt] than athletics legend Michael Johnson, the man Bolt has dethroned as the world's fastest human ever." That's quite an interesting take since no has ever really considered Johnson to be the fastest human ever. It's true that Bolt shattered Johnson's 12-year-old record in the 200-meters, but the "world's fastest man" title is traditionally reserved for the record holder in the 100, an event that Johnson never challenged in. His dual 200- and 400-meter world records at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta were very impressive, but not the same thing.
In fact, you may recall that there was a very public dispute about this very moniker following that Olympics. It was such a pressing issue to the sprinting public that television executives actually orchestrated a gimmicky 150-meter challenge race between Johnson and the other "fastest man alive," Canada's Donovan Bailey. Shortly after he fell behind in the home stretch, Johnson pulled up lame with an "injury" and Bailey won.
However, to the makers of this Johnson-Bolt documentary, Donovan Bailey doesn't exist. The film apparently mentions the man Bailey took the record from—American Leroy Burrell—and all the record holders since 1996, but not a peep about Donovan himself or Johnson's embarrassing showing in Toronto. But you know what they say, "History is written by victors, as long as they aren't Canadian."
What about Bailey? [The Globe and Mail]