Kathy Johnson
Johnson kathy 1984 olympics
Johnson at the 1984 Olympic Games

Country represented

Flag of the United States of America United States of America


September 13 1959 (1959-09-13) (age 57)
Indianalantic, Florida, USA

Years on National Team



Atlanta School of Gymnastics; SCATS


Tom Cook; Fred Martinez, Bob Moss

Current status


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,[9] 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
1975AAU Senior Nationals42
1976U.S. National Championships23
U.S. Olympic Trials12
1977U.S. National Championships2nd3rd1st
1st Elite Nationals1st1st1st1st
American Cup1st
NHK Cup2nd
1978U.S. National Championships1st
USA-JPN Dual Meet1st1st
Dial American Cup2nd
International Championships of Romania52nd3rd3rd2nd
São Paulo World Cup Final1473rd
U.S. World Team Trials4
Strasbourg World Championships583rd
1979U.S. National Championships42nd
AAU Senior Nationals2nd
Dial American Cup4
International Mixed Pairs3rd
Champions All4
National Sports Festival8
Tokyo World Cup Final6667
U.S. World Trials6
Fort Worth World Championships6
1980Hungary International5
U.S. Olympic Festival2nd
U.S. Olympic Trials2nd
1981U.S. National Championships2nd
All-American Classic6
USA-FRG Dual Meet1st2nd
Albuquerque International Invitational3rd
Champions All2nd
International Mixed Pairs2nd
U.S. World Team Trials8
Moscow World Championships615
1982American Classic2nd
U.S. Classic3rd
U.S. National Championships83rd4
USA vs. USSR2nd2nd
USGF International Invitational1st1st1st
Emerald Empire Cup3rd452nd
McDonald's American Cup2nd
1983U.S. Classic3rd
U.S. National Championships552nd
USA vs. USSR1st11
U.S. World Team Trials3rd
Budapest World Championships7118
1984American Classic 2nd652nd
U.S. Classic652nd
U.S. National Championships643rd7
USA-CAN Dual Meet1st3rd
USA-CHN Dual Meet6
Caesar's Palace Invitational9
U.S Olympic Trials8
Los Angeles Olympic Games2nd103rd

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