ATHLETICS: Happy Birthday to Rafer Johnson!

Not more results, but birthday wishes for one of America’s iconic Olympic champions, Rafer Johnson, who turned 83 on 18 August.

Sure, he was the 1960 Olympic Champion in the Decathlon, winning a tight battle with UCLA compatriot C.K. Yang (TPE). But for many people, his biography stops there and that’s wrong.

He was also the 1956 Olympic silver medalist – to fellow American Milt Campbell – in the Decathlon, and set three world records in the event.

Off the track, he also was a starter on the 1959-60 UCLA basketball team under John Wooden and was UCLA Student Body President in 1958. He went on to found Special Olympics Southern California after being involved in the development of the Special Olympics concept in 1968, lit the torch to begin the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and was also involved in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles in 2015.

He moves more slowly now, but is still a much-revered personality in Southern California and is often present at UCLA’s Drake Stadium to watch the Bruins compete in track, especially at the Rafer Johnson-Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational held each April. Happy 83rd, Rafer!