Rafer Johnson at the 1960 Olympics
|Full name||Rafer Lewis Johnson|
|Born||August 18, 1935 (age 81)
Hillsboro, Texas, U.S.
|Height||1.90 m (6 ft 3 in)|
|Weight||91 kg (201 lb)|
|Club||Southern California Striders, Anaheim|
|Achievements and titles|
|Personal best(s)||100 m â€“ 10.3 (1957)
220 yd â€“ 21.0 (1956)
400 m â€“ 47.9 (1956)
110 mH â€“ 13.8 (1956)
HJ â€“ 1.89 m (1955)
PV â€“ 4.09 m (1960)
LJ â€“ 7.76 m (1956)
SP â€“ 16.75 m (1958)
DT â€“ 52.50 m (1960)
JT â€“ 76.73 m (1960)
Decathlon â€“ 7982 (1960)
The main thing is that it's nice to see these young people – 9 to 14 years old – take the opportunity to get more involved in their health and fitness. We need more kids to be more active.
What I can tell them is the way you become an Olympic champion is to start working now. I tell them why it's always worth it to put the time and effort into something you want to be good at.
It's very warm there, so we were outdoors all the time. The local people had programs for us year-round, where as kids we had the opportunity to play football, basketball, baseball, track and field – we just went from one sport to the next, year-round.
I also meet with city officials, representatives from governors' offices, really anyone in that sort of position who has shown an interest in youth fitness, to let them know why this sort of program is so important. I give the same message when I speak at conferences.
I make appearance at local park and recreation agencies when the program starts, when they have the qualifying meets at the local levels. Then I try to go to the regional competitions, and of course I'm there in Hershey, Pa., in August for the North American final.
I tell them how what matters is becoming the best you can be at whatever you're doing.
Tonight I'm going to shower and then just walk for about four hours and look at the moon.
So I had the opportunity to do what the kids in the Hershey program do, except that the Hershey program lets them do it on such a larger scale, with the regional and national competitions.