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An Olympic champ turned teacher

india Updated: Jul 10, 2007 18:07 IST

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Before the Olympics, the five gold medals and the world records, Michael Johnson was a skinny teen who almost quit his high school athletics team because he didn't think he was good enough.

Now he wants to turn youngsters into better athletes with equipment and coaching that wasn't around when he went to Dallas Skyline High.

Last month, he opened the Michael Johnson Performance Center, the latest in a growing number of facilities around the country that tap into athletic dreams of young athletes. He also will train college gridiron players for the National Football League draft.

Johnson's center in this affluent Dallas suburb features a 60-meter indoor sprint track, a synthetic turf field, a basketball court and weight room. Johnson plans a 4,000-seat outdoor stadium that could hold elite athletics events, even Olympic trials.

Johnson charges $979 (euro718) for 18 sessions, which last 90 minutes each. Participants get a physical assessment, a vision and coordination test and a pair of running shoes.

One of Johnson's first customers was Haley Pruitt, who made the all-district softball team this spring as a freshman at McKinney High School but worries about being too slow. Pruitt credits a few weeks of workouts with increasing her strength and improving her running technique.

"This will help running the bases, and I'll be able to move quicker in center field," Pruitt said.