On September 12, 1988, I left Vancouver with the Canadian track & field team, bound for Narita Airport in Tokyo. We were a large group, made up of almost 70 athletes and about 20 staff members. Team spirit was high. After all, as prophesied by Jean-Guy Ouellette, chairman of the board of directors of the CTFA, “For the first time in 56 years, we have a distinct gold medal hopeful in our midst…” (from the Media Guide: Canada’s Team Track & Field Athletics, 1988 Olympic Games, Seoul, Korea). Ouellette’s message went on to say:
But Ben Johnson has brought more to our team than public profile. This great man has shared with his teammates from across the country, a sense of confidence and optimism. He has made us all feel that we truly belong in the elite world of sport . . . not only amateur sport, but in the complete sphere of sporting endeavour around the globe.
In fact, it was because of Ben that we were stopping in Tokyo for three days before travelling to the Athletes’ Village in Seoul. The Japanese media were in a frenzy about Ben. The rumour I heard was that they were paying to put up our entire team in a luxury hotel in exchange for an interview with Ben.
I was happy about stopping in Tokyo. The hotel was luxurious. We had free access to a huge gym, complete with a pool, whirlpool, and sauna. (I noticed that the drop-in fee for this gym was around $25.) There was a good track near the hotel, and I also found a large baseball field nearby where I could run on grass.
As I discovered on this and other trips to Japan, the Japanese are masters at creating small peaceful places within their high-density cities. Exploring the area near our hotel with my roommate, 800m runner Mary Burminski, we discovered a shrine area that included many religious buildings as well as a beautiful treed park area filled with quiet paths and ponds. This was a good place to get away from the noise of the crowded city. Soon enough, we would be facing the pressure of the biggest competition of our lives.
Olympic Training Log
September 10, 1988
AM: Did track workout on Chilliwack gravel track. 1½ mile easy warmup, 3 strides. 6 x 1 mile, 2 min rest. Times 5:11, 5:12, 5:12, 5:13, 5:11, 5:11. Cold at first. Felt strong but still not getting enough sleep. Finished with 6 x 100m and easy jog. About 8 miles.
September 11, 1988
AM: Workout at gym in Vancouver. 67 min weights. Combination, mostly pulls. Felt good. Followed by 2 x 12 min on Lifecycle, level 8 fitness test, level 7 hills, levels 10–11 rest.
September 12, 1988
Rest day—travelling to Tokyo.
September 13, 1988
PM: Did light workout in hotel sports facility. 5 min weights, 20 min continuous on stationary bike, 29 min swim in small pool (80 lengths). Feeling terrible from travelling, but better after workout.
September 14, 1988
AM: Did workout at Narita track. 2 miles moderate warmup on grass, 3 strides. 6 x 300m with 2½ min rest. Didn’t time them because still feeling a bit lethargic. After 300s did 21 min more running at fairly good pace, 3 x 100m. Injuries a bit sore after. About 6½ miles.
September 15, 1988
AM: Did workout in gym. 68 min weights—mixed—worked quite hard. 22 min on stationary bike, quite easy.
PM: Swim—120 lengths—43 min. Felt good—enjoyed it!
September 16, 1988
AM: Ran to baseball park, easy to warm up (8 min). Continued 37 min more at moderate pace in circles around baseball field—really felt good, better as run progressed. Then did 8 x 1 min hard on paved road with 30 sec rest. Ran back to hotel. About 9 miles. Felt left knee tendonitis during run, and Achilles in warmup—Achilles very sore after, heel OK.
This week: 23½ miles running, 1hr 6 min stationary bike, 2 weight workouts, 2 swim workouts.