Gymnastics Wiki
Advertisement
Gymnastics Wiki
Kathy Johnson
Johnson kathy 1984 olympics.jpg
Johnson at the 1984 Olympic Games

Country represented

Flag of the United States of America.png United States of America

Born

September 13 1959 (1959-09-13) (age 62)
Indianalantic, Florida, USA

Height

5 ft. ¼in.

Years on National Team

1977-1984

Club

Atlanta School of Gymnastics; SCATS

Coach(es)

Tom Cook; Fred Martinez, Bob Moss

Current status

Retired

Kathy Johnson (born September 13 in Indianalantic, FL), also known as Kathy Johnson Clarke, is a retired American gymnast. She was one of America's top gymnasts leading up to the 1980 Olympics and was named to the American team, but didn't compete in Moscow due to the American-led boycott of the Olympics. She did, however, represented the United States at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, winning a team silver medal. She is notable for being one of the first American gymnasts to win a major international medal, and for her longevity and tenacity in remaining in the sport.

Career

Johnson began gymnastics at the age of twelve; a relatively late start for an elite gymnast. Within four years, however, she had progressed to competition at the elite level, placing 42nd at the 1975 AAU National Championships. In 1976, she finished in 23rd place at the US National Championships and twelfth at the Olympic Trials.

In 1977, however, Johnson began to achieve great success in the sport. She won the 1977 American Cup, took a silver medal in the all-around at the NHK Cup in Japan, and won the floor exercise gold and the all-around silver at the 1977 US Nationals. She continued to improve in 1978, becoming the US National all-around champion and winning the silver medal at the American Cup. At the 1978 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Strasbourg, Johnson placed eighth in the all-around—an excellent finish for an American gymnast at the time—and won a bronze medal on the floor exercise, tying with Romania's Emilia Eberle.

After her win, Johnson remained a vital member of the US team, helping the squad achieve a sixth-place finish at the 1979 Worlds. However, problems with her verbally abusive coach, who pressured her to lose weight and train even when she was seriously injured, took their toll, both physically and emotionally. Struggling to complete her University studies and stay competitive in a sport that was increasingly embracing younger, lighter girls, she developed bulimia. Johnson was further disheartened when the United States decided to join the boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. She had placed second at the Olympic Trials, had been named the team captain of the American squad and had been considered a legitimate contender for success at the Games.

After relocating to Southern California to train at SCATS with Don Peters, Johnson's fortunes and spirit improved. By 1983 she was representing the US at the World Championships again; placing eleventh in the all-around and qualifying to the floor exercise event final.

In 1984, at the age of twenty-four, Johnson earned a spot on the US team for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. She was elected the team captain. In addition to winning a silver medal with the squad, she won an individual bronze on the balance beam. In doing so, she became the second American female gymnast to medal in both a Worlds and an Olympics. Her teammate, Julianne Mcnamara, became the first American gymnast to hold that distinction, having won a bronze medal on the uneven bars at the 1981 World Championships and winning the gold medal (tied with Ma Yanhong of China) on the uneven bars one day before Johnson won her medal on beam.

Retired

After the Olympics, Johnson retired. Her focus turned quickly to television; less than a year after her Olympic win she appeared as a guest star on the children's show Kids Incorporated. Since the late 1980s she has worked as a sports commentator for ABC-TV and ESPN, often covering major gymnastics events such as the World Championships. She also served as the technical advisor for Lifetime Television's film Little Girls in Pretty Boxes.

Johnson has been involved in several initiatives to improve conditions for gymnasts and other world-class athletes, and has spoken publicly and lectured about her struggle with bulimia and her experiences in gymnastics. She is a member of the Advisory Committee for Justice for Athletes, an organization supporting the emotional health of young people in sports, and is an Olympic Athlete Ambassador for the Foundation for Global Sports Development's Culture, Education, Sports and Ethics Program. She is also on the National Athletic Advisory Board for Athletes for a Better World.

Johnson is married to actor Brian Patrick Clarke. The couple has one son together, Sean (born March '98), as well as an older son, Cary (born August '80), from Brian's previous marriage.

Medal Count

Year Event TF AA VT UB BB FX
1975 AAU Senior Nationals 42
1976 U.S. National Championships 23
U.S. Olympic Trials 12
1977 U.S. National Championships 2nd 3rd 1st
1st Elite Nationals 1st 1st 1st 1st
American Cup 1st
NHK Cup 2nd
1978 U.S. National Championships 1st
USA-JPN Dual Meet 1st 1st
Dial American Cup 2nd
International Championships of Romania 5 2nd 3rd 3rd 2nd
São Paulo World Cup Final 14 7 3rd
U.S. World Team Trials 4
Strasbourg World Championships 5 8 3rd
1979 U.S. National Championships 4 2nd
AAU Senior Nationals 2nd
Dial American Cup 4
International Mixed Pairs 3rd
Champions All 4
National Sports Festival 8
Tokyo World Cup Final 6 6 6 7
U.S. World Trials 6
Fort Worth World Championships 6
1980 Hungary International 5
U.S. Olympic Festival 2nd
U.S. Olympic Trials 2nd
1981 U.S. National Championships 2nd
All-American Classic 6
USA-FRG Dual Meet 1st 2nd
Albuquerque International Invitational 3rd
Champions All 2nd
International Mixed Pairs 2nd
U.S. World Team Trials 8
Moscow World Championships 6 15
1982 American Classic 2nd
U.S. Classic 3rd
U.S. National Championships 8 3rd 4
USA vs. USSR 2nd 2nd
USGF International Invitational 1st 1st 1st
Emerald Empire Cup 3rd 4 5 2nd
McDonald's American Cup 2nd
1983 U.S. Classic 3rd
U.S. National Championships 5 5 2nd
USA vs. USSR 1st 11
U.S. World Team Trials 3rd
Budapest World Championships 7 11 8
1984 American Classic 2nd 6 5 2nd
U.S. Classic 6 5 2nd
U.S. National Championships 6 4 3rd 7
USA-CAN Dual Meet 1st 3rd
USA-CHN Dual Meet 6
Caesar's Palace Invitational 9
U.S Olympic Trials 8
Los Angeles Olympic Games 2nd 10 3rd
Advertisement