Michael Johnson to open training center
DALLAS -- Five-time Olympic champion sprinter Michael Johnson will announce plans Wednesday to open a training center near Dallas for elite athletes and youths.
Johnson said the facility will include a sports medicine research complex, to be operated by a prominent Dallas fitness expert, and will be modeled after the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
Plans call for an eight-lane, 400-meter outdoor track stadium and a 23,000-square-foot indoor facility including a basketball court, 60-yard indoor track and physical therapy center. The track will be built by the city of McKinney and real estate developer Wellstone Communities.
Since retiring from track in 2000, Johnson has been a consultant to other sprinters and college football stars preparing for the NFL draft. He said the Michael Johnson Performance Training Center will cater to a few such elite athletes -- starting with a crop of NFL prospects in January -- but a much larger number of youths and adult recreational athletes.
Johnson said his center will focus on helping 12- to 18-year-olds improve speed and strength rather than develop sport-specific skills. That would be a different approach from other centers such as the IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla., which started as a haven for tennis prodigies and branched out into other sports.
"We're not necessarily looking for the next great athlete," Johnson said. "We're helping them to be better, at whatever level they are -- helping them to compete better."
The center will charge $45 to $65 per hour for group sessions, more for individual training, and will also operate summer camps in soccer, track and field and other sports, he said.
Johnson, a product of Dallas Skyline High School, blossomed as a sprinter at Baylor University under coach Clyde Hart. He went on to win five Olympic gold medals and still holds world records in the 200 and 400 meters.
Johnson scheduled a news conference for Wednesday at the upscale subdivision in McKinney where his facility and a fitness center run by Dr. Kenneth Cooper will be located. The area is already home to golf and tennis training centers.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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