In Memory of Rafer Johnson 1934-2020


Hillsboro native Rafer Johnson went to high school in California and became one of the greatest all around athletes in track & field history. In 1954 in his fourth meet, as a freshman at UCLA, he broke the decathlon world record. Johnson also won the decathlon at the 1955 Pan American Games in Mexico City and went on to become a three-time national AAU champion in the event. Although he qualified for two events at the 1956 Olympics, an injury kept him from competing in the long jump and held him to a second place finish in the decathlon. He won the gold medal in the decathlon at the 1960 Olympics defeating UCLA teammate and friend C.K. Yang of Taiwan. Johnson was named the 1960s Associated Press Athlete of the Year and also won the Sullivan Award winner as the nation’s top amateur athlete. He is a member of the National Track & Field (1974) and U.S. Olympic Halls of Fame (1983). In 1984 he was chosen to light the Olympic flame at the Opening Ceremonies at the Los Angeles Coliseum. In 2003 UCLA honored Johnson by naming its track and field invitational meet after him. Among his many volunteer efforts he has given his time to the People to People Sports Ambassador Program the Hershey Track & Field Games just to name a few. Johnson was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2006.

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