Olympic Gold Medalist Rafer Johnson Returns To UCLA Athletics
Aug. 4, 2011
Rafer Johnson, Olympic gold medalist and the epitome of the UCLA student-athlete, is returning to his alma mater as a special assistant to Athletic Director Dan Guerrero, it was announced today.
"Rafer represents all that is great about UCLA Athletics," said Guerrero. "During his days at UCLA, he was an outstanding scholar, president of the student body and a two-sport performer in track & field and basketball. He is an Olympic champion and has spent most of his adult life in the service of others, as illustrated by his commitment to the Special Olympics. It is a thrill to have Rafer on our staff."
In his new part-time role, Johnson will work primarily in the areas of External Relations, which includes alumni outreach, and Student-Athlete Development. Included in his responsibilities will be representing the Athletic Department at various events, such as alumni and donor functions. In addition, Johnson will be working closely with the Bruin athletic teams and coaches, as well as speaking with parents and current student-athletes about what it means to be a Bruin and represent UCLA's tradition of excellence, both on and off the field of competition.
Often referred to as the world's greatest all-around athlete, Johnson held the world record in the decathlon and won a silver medal in the same event during the 1956 Olympics while attending UCLA. In 1960, he completed a remarkable athletic career by earning a gold medal in the decathlon at the 1960 Olympic Games by defeating Bruin teammate C.K. Yang in a memorable finish in Rome. Johnson then earned the Sullivan Award as nation's top amateur athlete that year.
Following his athletic career, Johnson appeared in several motion pictures and was on television as a sportscaster. In the 1970's, he was a member of the President's Commission on Olympic Sports.
Johnson, a member of the National Track & Field and U.S. Olympic Halls of Fame, held the prestigious role as the final torchbearer for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, lighting the torch at the Coliseum in a moment captured worldwide.
Johnson's daughter, Jennifer Johnson-Jordan, was a star student-athlete for the UCLA women's volleyball team and a member of the U.S. Olympic volleyball team for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. His son, Josh, was also a Bruin student-athlete and excelled on the UCLA men's track & field team.
Johnson, a charter member of the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame in 1984, is Chairman for the Board of Directors of the Southern California Special Olympics and will continue to serve in that capacity during his tenure at UCLA.
CLick for Bruin Video