MLB: Olympian Michael Johnson to Yankees: 'Keep that hunger'
TAMPA, Fla. — Four-time Olympic gold medal sprinter Michael Johnson knows all about repeating a championship.
The World Series champion New York Yankees got to hear about the mental aspect of that process from the track great on Monday, when Johnson talked to the team at the request of mental conditioning director Chad Bohling and manager Joe Girardi.
"It's easy to get complacent," Johnson said. "You've got to try and keep that hunger, and I think that's the most important challenge facing the entire team. How do you stay hungry? Go out there this year with the same type of drive and determination and motivation that they had last year that helped them to be successful."
The first step is putting the previous championship in the past.
"You celebrate and then you start to focus on the upcoming season," Johnson said. "You have to find new goals. That's how I did it. Every year there was a new goal. It's not enough to just say 'Hey, let's be world champions.' You've done that before. But it could be as simple as being world champions, again. At the end of the day, I think the safest way to motivate yourself is to get some goals for yourself that you want to achieve or this unit wants to achieve as a team."
Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who won his first World Series title in 2009, and Johnson, the first athlete to win Olympic gold in the 200 and 400 meter dashes, have known each other since A-Rod played for Seattle.
"He was one of the best in the world in what he did for a long time," Rodriguez said. "Obviously, you want all of us to stay hungry and stay motivated, and I think this group has that. Last year was the perfect example of team work from top to bottom."
Johnson, a nine-time world champion, currently trains amateur and pro athletes at the Michael Johnson Performance Center in McKinney, Texas.
"He's a guy that's had repeated success," Girardi said. "A top-notch athlete for a long time. Understands about preparation. The physical demands, the mental demands of what it takes to be a champion. I just it's great to have a man of his caliber in here."