Dave Johnson (athlete)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the Canadian 1924 Olympic athlete, see David Johnson (athlete).
Dave Johnson
Medal record
Men's athletics
Competitor for the  United States
Olympic Games
Bronze medal – third place 1992 Barcelona Decathlon
Gold medal – first place 1989 Duisburg Decathlon

David ("Dave") Allen Johnson (born April 7, 1963) is a former Olympic decathlete from the United States. A native of Montana, he grew up in Missoula and Corvallis, Oregon. He was part of Reebok's "Dan & Dave" advertising campaign leading up to the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, where he won a bronze medal in the decathlon. After retiring from competitive athletics he became a school teacher and administrator, and served as athletic director of Corban University in Salem, Oregon starting in 2009. On November 14, 2012, Johnson resigned from the position to pursue a position with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.[1] Johnson accepted a position as Director with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Oregon in June 2013. He now coaches all field events at South Salem High School(except for high jump) leading with his star pupil Ruben Rojas.

Early life[edit]

David Johnson was born on April 7, 1963, in Missoula, Montana. As a child he attended C. S. Porter Elementary School and later attended Sentinel and would have graduated from Big Sky High School.[2] Johnson's family moved to Corvallis, Oregon, in 1980, and he attended Crescent Valley High School,[3] graduating in 1981.[4] He was involved in a series of petty thefts as a teenager, primarily stealing soda pop and beer from local distributors with an assortment of childhood friends until one of them was caught and informed on the rest. He later detailed his experiences to reporters prior to the Barcelona Olympic games and used the material for his book and speaking tour as an example on how to turn one's life around.

During adolescence Johnson was afflicted with Osgood-Schlatter disease in both knees that kept him from participating in high school sports for the most part. During his junior high years he excelled in track, touch football and was on a Kiwanis basketball team for two years. In elementary school he played organized Little League baseball and had some familiarity with boxing.


Even as a child Johnson was naturally fit and coordinated from neighborhood activities. He first tried football and track his senior year in high school. In college at Azusa Pacific University he started to compete in the decathlon - at 6'4", he put his innate abilities and his constant physical training to use and began setting records. He graduated from the school in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in psychology, and later earned a master's degree in 2003 from the school in special education.[3] After several years he was generally acknowledged as the best decathlete to date. At this time Dan O'Brien appeared on the scene and began to provide Dave with his first real competition. O'Brien and Johnson became good friends and consistently placed first and second in most events. O'Brien eventually began to be considered the best overall decathlete, but Johnson earned the recognition as the best ever at 2nd day events. Johnson was a member of the 1988 U.S. Olympic team.[4]

For the 1992 Summer Olympics Games the team of "Dan & Dave" was promoted as the real competition in the games and the question of who would take first and who would come in second was widely debated. Dan failed to qualify for the team when he no-heighted on the pole vault, leaving Dave as the presumed gold medal winner. Unfortunately for him, Johnson experienced a stress fracture in his left foot on the first day of events. He put on a shoe two sizes larger, laced it up tight, and competed anyway and won the bronze medal.[4] Johnson's endorsement career continued for at least another year after the Barcelona Olympic Games and included Oakley Sunglasses, Pert Shampoo, Ryder Trucks, and Reebok shoes among others.

Later life[edit]

Johnson later retired from competition and became a motivational speaker. He also wrote the book "Aim High - An Olympic Decathlete's Inspiring Story" with Verne Becker.[3] Until 2006, Johnson worked at Jefferson High School as a special education instructor and assistant principal in Jefferson, Oregon.[4] He was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 2005, entering with fellow decathlon competitor Dan O'Brien.[5][6] He also has a wife and four children.[3] For a couple years in the early 2000s he taught at West Albany High School in Albany, Oregon.[7] Johnson then became the athletic director at South Salem High School to the north in Salem.[3] In June 2009, he was named as the athletic director of Corban University, a small private college in Salem.[3] He resigned from the position in December 2012 to pursue a ministry position with FCA.[8] Johnson accepted a position with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Oregon in 2013 and is a volunteer and consultant coach with South Salem High School, Corban, Salem Track Club, and Oregon State University.

Career statistics[edit]

  • PR: 8727 points
  • Broke American record
    • 1989: 8549 points
  • Olympic bronze medal, 1992
    • 8309 points
  • Olympic 9th place finish, 1988
    • 8180 points
  • U.S. national champion
    • 1986: 8203w
    • 1989: 8549
    • 1990: 8600w
    • 1992: 8649
  • World University Games champion, 1989
    • 8216 points
  • Goodwill Games Gold Medal 1990


  1. ^ "Dave Johnson resigns from Corban". 2012-11-14. Retrieved 2013-03-27. 
  2. ^ Cart, Julie (July 18, 1991). "U.S. Olympic Festival Los Angeles 1991: Johnson Making Change on Past: Decathlon: One of the Top Decathletes in the World Has Made an About-face From His Boyhood in Missoula, Mont.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 24, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Former Olympian Named as Director of Athletics". News (Corban College). June 16, 2009. Retrieved June 26, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c d Ulmer, Jerry (June 17, 2009). "Former Olympian Dave Johnson leaves South Salem High School for Corban College". The Oregonian. Retrieved June 26, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Dave Johnson". Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved February 23, 2011. 
  6. ^ A "Dan & Dave" reunion - The Portland Tribune, October 7, 2005.
  7. ^ "Dave Johnson". Premiere Athlete and Celebrity. Retrieved 2010-09-25. 
  8. ^ "Dave Johnson resigns as Corban AD".