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.
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.
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.
|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|
|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|
|National Sports Festival||8|
|Tokyo World Cup Final||6||6||6||7|
|U.S. World Trials||6|
|Fort Worth World Championships||6|
|U.S. Olympic Festival||2nd|
|U.S. Olympic Trials||2nd|
|1981||U.S. National Championships||2nd|
|USA-FRG Dual Meet||1st||2nd|
|Albuquerque International Invitational||3rd|
|International Mixed Pairs||2nd|
|U.S. World Team Trials||8|
|Moscow World Championships||6||15|
|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|
|U.S. National Championships||5||5||2nd|
|USA vs. USSR||1st||11|
|U.S. World Team Trials||3rd|
|Budapest World Championships||7||11||8|
|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|