One Gold is Enough, Bring on the Bronze - NBC Bay Area

One Gold is Enough, Bring on the Bronze



    12 Ways to Effortlessly Surprise Your Friends and Co-Workers
    Getty Images
    Rafer Johnson lights the Olympic torch in 1984.

    A bronze plaque honoring 1960 Olympic decathlon gold medalist Rafer Johnson will be unveiled Monday in the Los Angeles Memorial  Coliseum's Memorial Court of Honor, 25 years and 13 days after he lit the torch  in the opening ceremonies of the 1984 Summer Olympics.

    UCLA provost Scott Waugh, UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero and LA84  Foundation President Anita DeFrantz are scheduled to join Johnson in speaking  at the ceremony, which is closed to the public.

    The plaque honoring Johnson will be the 57th in the Court of Honor,  which commemorates people and events with ties to the Coliseum and adjacent  Sports Arena.

    Born Aug. 18, 1935 in Hillsboro, Texas, and raised in Kingsburg in  Central California, Johnson competed in his first decathlon in 1954, won a gold  medal in the 1955 Pan-American Games and set a world record later that year.

    Competing with a swollen knee and a torn stomach muscle, Johnson won a  silver medal in the event in the 1956 Summer Olympics, the last time he would  lose a decathlon.

    In 1958, he set the world record with 8,302 points in the U.S.-Soviet  Union dual meet in Moscow and was named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the  Year.

    "Ray Johnson is rare concentrate of some old Sunday school virtues:  tolerance, humility and godliness, none of which can be said to be gaining too  much ground in this go-get-'em age," Coles Phinizy wrote.

    Johnson won a gold medal in the 1960 Olympics, edging his UCLA teammate,  Yang Chuan-Kwang of Taiwan. Johnson received the Sullivan Award for being the  nation's outstanding amateur athlete and was named as the Associated Press  Athlete of the Year.

    In 1999, Johnson was named 53rd on the list of the greatest North  American athletes of the 20th century by ESPN. Johnson also played basketball at UCLA and was a starter during the 1959- 60 season.

    "Many of the things that I've accomplished beyond my years at UCLA,  including my relationship with my family and friends and the fact that I'm very  much interested in giving back to the community, have a great deal to do with  what I learned from coach (John) Wooden" Johnson said.

    Johnson retired from athletics after the 1960 Olympics, becoming an  actor and sportscaster. He was worked on the 1968 presidential campaign of Sen.  Robert F. Kennedy and has been long involved with the Special Olympics and  People to People organizations.

    Johnson will join such legendary athletes as Jackie Robinson, Jesse  Owens and Babe Didrickson with plaques in the Coliseum Memorial Court of Honor.

    Other plaques honor John F. Kennedy, who received the 1960 Democratic  presidential nomination at the Sports Arena and made his acceptance speech at  the Coliseum in an address in which he used the phrase ``New Frontier'' for the  first time; Pope John Paul II, who celebrated Mass in the Coliseum in 1987; the  Rev. Billy Graham, who attracted134,254 for a 1963 crusade; football coaches  Knute Rockne of Notre Dame and John McKay of USC; and the late NFL Commissioner  Pete Rozelle