(Reuters) – Sprint great Michael Johnson said that his “Olympic mindset” had helped speed up his recovery from a mini stroke that the 51-year-old suffered earlier this year.
Olympic champion and former world record-holder Johnson suffered a transient ischemic attack, which causes symptoms similar to a stroke, in September but said he was almost back to normal nearly three months on.
“I told my wife I was confident of making a full recovery and not only will I do that, I’ll do it faster than anybody else has done before,” Johnson told the BBC.
“I knew then the recovery was going to be down to hard work, focus and commitment to the process. That is something I am very familiar with. Almost three months on now from the stroke and I am pretty much back to normal and back to work.”
Johnson said he began undergoing physical therapy two days after suffering the stroke and that every bit of improvement had given him hope of a full recovery.
“I got out of bed with assistance and got behind the walker around the hospital – and ironically it was around 200 metres. I timed it and it took me around 15 minutes to cover that distance,” Johnson added.
“Ordinarily that would be very disconcerting and I would have no hope – having been the fastest person in the world at that distance – but I was very encouraged. With every step I took, I could feel myself re-learning.
“For the next few weeks I went back into an Olympic mindset and focusing on having the best training session I can today and using it to be better and get better.”
Johnson, who became the first man to win the 200 and 400 metres at the 1996 Atlanta Games and then won the 400m four years later in Sydney, said his focused approach had helped.
“I could regain co-ordination and balance which I had lost. I did not lose any strength. Then I was getting back to walking properly, then more dynamic exercises and then into running,” he said.