Games & medals
Rio de Janeiro 2016 2016
|#5 h3 r1/3||Athletics||800 metres|
Jinson JOHNSON biography
As a young boy, Jinson Johnson used to dash through the muddy tracks of his village in Kerala but the Indian track-and-field star soon learned to pace himself and emerged as one of the premier middle-distance runners not only in India but in Asia.
At many points in his career, the Olympian and an Asian Games gold medallist has been the top-ranked runner in Asia in both 800m and 1500m.
Jinson Johnson, who sports a tattoo of the Olympic rings on his right arm, also holds India’s national record in both disciplines.
Born in a farmer’s family in Chakkittapara in the Kozhikode district of Kerala, Jinson Johnson grew an affinity towards running when he was young.
He participated in track-and-field disciplines growing up, with 200m being his go-to event. But as he grew older, he gradually understood his talents favoured longer races, which needed a lot more tactical mindset rather than raw speed.
Jinson Johnson consequently moved his focus before finally settling for 800m and 1500m years later. He was spotted at a district meet in Kozhikode and received professional training, after which his career took wings.
By the age of 18, he joined the Indian Army where the facilities and exposure further helped him blossom into a rising track and field star.
It was his 800 metres silver at the 2015 Asian Athletics Championships held in Wuhan which shot him to the limelight. He also won three gold medals at the Asian Grand Prix that year.
Jinson Johnson qualified for the 800m at Rio 2016 after clocking 1:45.98 at the Indian Grand Prix in Bengaluru to beat the qualification cut-off of 1:46.00. He was also the first Indian male runner to qualify for the 800m at the Olympics since Sriram Singh did it in 1980.
At his maiden Games, the runner found himself in Heat 3 along with world-record holder and eventual gold medallist David Rudisha.
Starting in lane 7, Jinson Johnson managed to take the lead briefly before he started losing ground. Despite picking up his pace in the final 200m stretch, he finished fifth in the 9-man heat,clocking a time of 1:47.27.
With the top three from each heat along with the three next fastest runners across heats qualifying for the semi-finals, Jinson Johnson eventually found himself 0.62 seconds off the mark. Egypt’s Hamada Mohamed secured the final spot with a time of 1:46.65.
He, however, bounced back with a bronze at the Asian Championships 2017 held in Bhubaneswar and then made 2018 a landmark year for himself.
In April, at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, Jinson Johnson placed fifth in the 1500m event, clocking 3:37.86. The timing saw him usurp Bahadur Prasad’s 23-year-old national record (3:38.00) in the event.
Two months later, the Kerala-born athlete went on to break yet another longstanding national record – this time in the 800m.
He ran the distance in 1:45.65 at the 58th National Inter State Senior Athletics Championships in Guwahati to break the legendary Sriram Singh’s previous record of 1:45.77, set at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.
Later, at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, he clinched the gold in the 1500 metres and silver behind Indian peer Manjit Singh in the 800m event.
Jinson Johnson shifted his focus to the 1500m after April 2019 and bettered his own national record in the discipline after running a 3:35.24 at an ISTAF Meet in Berlin, Germany, in September that year.