Arsenal have turned to one of the greatest Olympians of all time to help improve the physical attributes of the young players they have coming through the ranks at Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners have enlisted Michael Johnson to work with the club's youngsters before they get into the first team set-up, as his specialty is helping to improve the "speed and power" and young athletes still developing.
Johnson has an athlete training academy in his native country and has worked with various sports teams in the past. Now the Daily Mirror claim he has been invited to work with Arsenal on a more extensive basis, so as to help the club better prepare youth players for the first team.
“It’s about developing athletes. How do you bring an athlete from seven or eight years old all the way through to their full development as a 17 or 18 year-old," Johnson is quoted as saying.
"We don’t work with the first-team players. We specialise in youth athletics development and are seen as the experts in that. Once you get into athletic development, you start to look at speed, strength, power, agility, suppleness – all of those different things – and pick the ones that they really are interested in.”
Johnson is one of the most famous sprinters in Olympic history and once held both 200m and 400m world records, the latter still stands while the former was defeated by Usain Bolt in 2008.
The American was famous for his singular running style and was dubbed the 'World's Fastest Man' after he won both 200m and 400m gold at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta - a feat never achieved by a male athlete.
Johnson is famed for his work with youngsters in most areas, but he revealed that strength and strength training techniques are pretty up to scratch in the UK - he is looking to concentrate on speed and power.
"Strength has always been a big one in the UK. In that aspect I would say that the UK is right up there with everyone else. The UK has some cutting-edge stuff in terms of strength programmes but I’d say they lag behind the States in terms of speed and power," added the 47-year-old.
“Everybody is trying to get as much as they can out of their athletes, tying to find out where you can find that expertise and new training methodology that’s going to help us more effectively bring athletes through.”
Along with the hiring of Germany's strength and conditioning specialist for the past ten years, Shad Forsythe, it appears as though Arsenal are going through a major transition in their medical and training set-up.
With the number of injuries suffered by the Gunners in recent years to important players, many fans will say this is not before time. Johnson is a respected coach in his field and Arsene Wenger will be hoping his methods can prepare the most promising young players to hit the ground running when they are given a first team opportunity.
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