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In what is expected to be one of the premier races of the Olympic Games, Frank Fredericks and Michael Johnson will meet tonight in the finals of the 200-meter dash, provided both survive the semifinal heats, as anticipated.

Both Fredericks and Johnson easily won their heats in the first two rounds on Wednesday. Fredericks won his second race in 20.38 and Johnson won the next heat in 20.37.An official Olympic press release calls the Fredericks-Johnson matchup "a race to savour."

Tonight's race also will include defending Olympic champion Mike Marsh of the U.S., 100-meter bronze medalist Ato Bolden of Trinidad, and world championships bronze medalist Jeff Williams of the U.S.

"I felt good," said Fredericks after Wednesday's races. "It felt easy."

Johnson, the defending world champion in the 200 and the winner of the Olympic 400 on Monday, is attempting to become the first man to win both races in the Olympics, as he did in last year's world championships.

Fredericks ended Johnson's 21-race win streak at 200 meters in their one and only meeting this year. Only .03 of a second separated the two at the finish line.

Earlier this summer, Johnson set the world record of 19.66 in the 200 at the U.S. Olympic trials on the same Olympic Stadium track. Fredericks' coach, Willard Hirschi, believes he'll have to break the record again to win tonight's final.

"It will take a world record to beat Frank," said Hirschi.

Nobody has handed Johnson more losses over the years than Fredericks, but Johnson holds a 15-8 edge over his rival (see chart).

Fredericks, a former BYU collegiate champion from Namibia who continues to live in Provo, won silver medals in both the 100 and 200 in the 1992 Olympics and repeated his second-place finish in the 100 five days ago.

"He's moving easily," said Hirschi. "He just needs to keep running like that. If he does, he'll be hard to beat."



Johnson & Fredericks head-to-head

Year Winner (place) Time Loser (place) Time

1990 Johnson (1st) 20.32 Fredericks (2nd) 20.32

Johnson (1st) 20.07 Fredericks (5th) 20.83

1991 Johnson (1st) 20.05 Fredericks (2nd) 20.13

Johnson (1st) 20.08 Fredericks (2nd) 20.12

Johnson (1st) 20.01 Fredericks (2nd) 20.34

Johnson (1st) 19.89 Fredericks (4th) 20.37

Johnson (1st) 19.88 Fredericks (3rd) 20.47

1992 Fredericks (1st) 20.23 Johnson (2nd) 20.25

Fredericks (1st) 20.14 Johnson (6th) 20.78

1993 Fredericks (1st) 20.18 Johnson (2nd) 20.33

Fredericks (1st) 20.21 Johnson (2nd) 20.25

Fredericks (1st) 20.34 Johnson (3rd) 20.41

Johnson (1st) 20.19 Fredericks (2nd) 20.22

1994 Fredericks (1st) 20.45 Johnson (2nd) 20.49

Fredericks (1st) 20.10 Johnson (4th) 20.26

Johnson (1st) 20.10 Fredericks (2nd) 20.17

Johnson (1st) 19.94 Fredericks (4th) 20.31

Johnson (1st) 20.09 Fredericks (2nd) 20.15

1995 Johnson (1st) 19.96 Fredericks (2nd) 20.07

Johnson (1st) 19.79 Fredericks (2nd) 20.12

Johnson (1st) 19.93 Fredericks (2nd) 20.21

Johnson (1st) 20.06 Fredericks (2nd) 20.11

1996 Fredericks (1st) 19.82 Johnson (2nd) 19.85