Indialantic’s Kathy Johnson Captain of Two Olympic Teams, Earned Silver Medal
By SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME // November 1, 2020
FLASHBACK: 2013 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME inductee
ABOVE VIDEO: Kathy Johnson defied the odds by competing for the United States in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, just a month before she turned 25 – an age when most women gymnasts have retired. Johnson was enshrined in the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2013
KATHY JOHNSON – 2013 INDUCTEE
• Olympic Silver Medalist
• Two-Time USA Gymnast of the Year
• Captain of Two Olympic Teams
DEFIED THE ODDS
Unlike many United States Olympic athletes who were affected by the boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, Indialantic’s Kathy Johnson, captain of the 1980 women’s gymnastic team, was patient enough to realize that there would be a second chance in 1984.
Johnson was enshrined in the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2013, she defied the odds by competing for the United States in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles just a month before she turned 25, an age when most women gymnasts have retired in a sport that might be more aptly named girls gymnastics.
As captain again of the 1984 squad, Johnson won a bronze medal on the Balance Beam and a silver medal in the Team competition for the United States team, members of which included Mary Lou Retton, Julianne McNamara, Michelle Duserre, Tracee Talavera and Pamela Black.
Prior to the 1984 Summer Olympics, the U.S. women’s team had only earned one medal in gymnastics. Los Angeles was definitely a turning point.
Besides Johnson, Retton was the gold medalist in the All-Around, silver medalist in the vault, and bronze medalist on the Uneven Bars and in the Floor Exercise. McNamara tied for the gold medal on the Uneven Bars, and earned a silver medal in the Floor Exercise.
OLYMPIC RECORD SETTER
Johnson did not begin training in gymnastics until she was 12-years-old. At 15, she made the difficult decision to leave her Indialantic home to train in Atlanta under coach Fred Martinez. At 5-foot and 1/4-inches tall, Johnson weighed between 94 and 98 pounds during her competitive career.
In 1975, Johnson placed 42nd in the 1975 AAU National Championships. In 1976, Johnson might have had a chance to make the U.S. Olympic team if the selection process were similar to that of today.
At that time, it was a double-meet trial spanning two days. Johnson had the highest optional score, but she also had the lowest compulsory score as she finished 12th in the Olympic Trials.
In 1977, Johnson won the American Cup, earned a silver medal in the All-Around at the NHK Cup in Japan, and won a gold medal in the Floor Exercise and a silver medal in the All-Around in the U.S. Nationals.
In 1978, she tied Emilia Eberle of Romania for a bronze medal in the Floor Exercise at the World Championships in Strasbourg, and won the All-Around title in the U.S. Nationals, also repeating as the champion in the floor exercise.
From 1977 to 1979, Johnson competed for Centenary College in Shreveport, La. where she was a two-time All-American and the AIAW champion in 1978 and 1979.
In the 1984 Summer Olympics, Johnson and McNamara became the first American women gymnasts to earn medals in both a World Championship and an Olympic Games.
McNamara, who won a bronze medal on the Uneven Bars in the 1981 World Championships, beat Johnson out by one day for the honor when she won her gold medal on the uneven bars before Johnson won her medal on the balance beam.
RESPECTED VOICE OF GYMNASTICS
After the 1984 Olympics, Johnson retired from competition and has worked extensively as a television commentator for ABC, CBS, NBC, ESPN, and Fox Sports.
She remains one of the most recognized and respected “voices” in the world of gymnastics.
Wife to actor Brian Patrick Clarke and mother of two, she has also dedicated time and attention to 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.
As a member of the Advisory Committee for Athletes, she has been an outspoken supporter of the emotional health of young people in sports.
We were delighted and honored to welcome Kathy Johnson Clark in 2013, captain of two Olympic teams and four world championship squads, USA Gymnast of the Year in 1977 and 1985, and concerned and dedicated supporter of young athletes and sports ethics, to the distinguished list of names in the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME HONORS BREVARD’S RICH SPORTS HISTORY: The Space Coast Daily– Friday Night Locker Room Team is Brevard’s #1 Sports Source
For more than a century, athletes from Brevard County have been considered among the finest in America and their accomplishments are honored and immortalized by the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
Space Coast Daily created the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2011 and inducted its first class in 2012 and has so far inducted more than 150 of Brevard’s most outstanding athletes, coaches and sports personalities.
MEMBERS INDUCTED IN FOUR CATEGORIES
Nominees are chosen in four categories including professional sports, college sports, high school sports and amateur-rec sports. Special honorary recognition is also be bestowed upon individuals and groups that have made significant contributions to sports on the Space Coast.
A special committee will select the Class of 2020, and the inductees will be enshrined in the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame on Friday, May 8, 2019.
Serving on the 2020 committee are Space Coast Daily President and Publisher Tom Palermo, Vice President Giles Malone, Editor-in-Chief Dr. Jim Palermo, Managing Editor Zach Clark, Senior Editor Chris Bonanno, Assistant Editor Jordan Rocco, Friday Night Locker Room co-founders Steve Wilson and Orville Susong, former Health First COO Larry Garrison and Amateur Athletic Union Vice President Rusty Buchanan.
“The list of potential and deserving candidates for 2019 induction include athletes and coaches everybody knows – and some that may have been forgotten with the passing of time,” said Tom Palermo.
VENUE TO PAY TRIBUTE
Susong has been watching and covering sports on the Space Coast for more than 25 years and has interviewed many of the area’s outstanding athletes on the Friday Night Locker Room.
“It’s amazing how many outstanding athletes have come from Brevard County,” said Susong.
Susong and Wilson were inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2015 and have been broadcasting youth and high school sports for more than 20 years.
“We receive nominations for athletes that competed for 30, 40, or even 50 years ago – it’s satisfying to be able to recognize these individuals who have been forgotten but made an indelible mark on sports on the Space Coast,” said Malone.
Avid sports fan, Dr. Jim Palermo, said, “I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to live and work in Brevard County for more than 36 years, during which time I’ve had the pleasure of watching and following so many superlative athletes ascend through local junior and school sports programs to the college level, and some into the pros.”
2020 HALL OF FAME INDUCTION
The 2020 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet and Sports Awards is set May 8 and will be held at the Cocoa Beach County Club,
“The festivities include a meet and greet with the area’s sports royalty, dinner and the induction proceeding which includes compelling video tributes of each of the inductees,” said Malone.
FOR INFORMATION about the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame, and to submit a nomination, call 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com
CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL THE INDUCTEES