THE BLOG
16/07/2013 08:03 BST | Updated 14/09/2013 06:12 BST

Michael Johnson Goes Beyond Sport

When we talk about Olympic legends, it is hard to look beyond Michael Johnson. Three Olympic Games and four Olympic gold medals - two in his home Games in Atlanta - are enough proof of that. Michael's achievements on track have meant that he has stayed at the heart of sport and the Olympic Movement for more than 20 years.

When we talk about Olympic legends, it is hard to look beyond Michael Johnson. Three Olympic Games and four Olympic gold medals - two in his home Games in Atlanta - are enough proof of that. Michael's achievements on track have meant that he has stayed at the heart of sport and the Olympic Movement for more than 20 years.

In that time he has seen the extraordinary power that sport has to change lives and as a result, we at Beyond Sport have always known that he is one of our strongest supporters - even when it came to presenting our Team of the Year Award to the Philadelphia Eagles, fierce rivals of his beloved Dallas Cowboys.

In September he will have chance to see their work close up when the Beyond Sport Summit & Awards, the world's greatest gathering of teams, leagues, businesses and organisations around sports and social change, comes to Philadelphia. Michael will once again be joining us to share his experiences and, like the rest of us, to learn from the incredible work going on on a global scale. We caught up ahead of the event.

Michael - you've been involved in Beyond Sport from the word go. How have you seen the area of sport for development move forward in the last few years, and throughout your career?

There is a tremendous amount more organized focus now, and sharing of best practice, corporate involvement, media focus, and most importantly a general recognition of the power of sport as a tool for development and change in society.

You are hugely associated with the Olympic Games across the world. What is the biggest impact you've seen as a result of the Games in any individual city or country?

I competed in the Barcelona Games of 1992 and I believe the investment in sport and facilities have had a direct impact resulting in the current generation of sporting excellence we see coming out of Spain, from the Spanish football team to Rafael Nadal. The London Games last year and the success of those Games went a long way in boosting the spirit of the entire country but it will be some time before we see what the lasting legacy of the London Games will be.

Alongside the successful Olympics you mention, London 2012 was the biggest Paralympic Games ever. How has the Paralympic Movement changed since Atlanta, almost 20 years ago?

The Paralympic Movement has been steadily growing since Atlanta, but I believe the London 2012 Paralympic Games was a watershed moment for the Paralympics. From a competition standpoint I believe people now have a great deal more respect than they did ten years ago for the athleticism of Paralympians, and not just respect for the greatness of Paralympians because of what they have overcome and what they have achieved despite their disability.

How important is the emphasis on sustainability in a modern Olympic bid? As an athlete, do you think about the legacy of an event when you're competing?

During the Olympic Games I competed in - 1992, 1996, and 2000 - the focus was much more on making sure the Olympics wasn't a money-losing endeavor for a host city. No-one wanted to repeat the example of Montreal from 1976, in which a tremendous amount of debt became the legacy. Not until London won the bid for 2012 on a campaign heavily based on sustainability and legacy did this become a focus for host cities. It will be extremely important moving forward.

As a famous Dallas Cowboys fan, how hard was it presenting the Philadelphia Eagles with a Beyond Sport Award in 2011? And are you looking forward to seeing first-hand the work they do in the community when the Summit comes to Philadelphia in September?

As a life-long Dallas Cowboys fan and a division rival of the Eagles it wasn't the most fun thing I have done! But since we have significantly more Super Bowl championships than they do, I felt they deserved to win something! Seriously, the Eagles are doing great things in their community and should be a model for other teams to follow.

Find out more about Beyond Sport at @BeyondSport