Decathlete Dave Johnson shares memories of winning bronze medal in 1992 Olympics

/ by Jamie Hudson
Presented By Toyota

Decathlon bronze medalist of the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona, Dave Johnson recalls the honor of representing his country.

The now 58-year-old decathlete, who grew up in Missoula, Montana and Corvallis, Oregon currently coaches pole vault and hurdles at South Salem High School.

But being an Olympian for the Oregon native was a time of physical and mental toughness.

“As an athlete it means everything,” Johnson explained. “You want to be the best in the world, you want to be the best in town, you want to be the best in the state, but ultimately you know you’re shooting to go to an Olympics Games and make an Olympic team.”

Once you get there you feel like you’ve achieved a very high level of performance.

Dave Johnson

Leading up to the ’92 Games, Johnson was signed to a Reebok deal with fellow decathlete Dan O'Brien.

Johnson was also a member of the 1988 U.S. Olympic team.

For me, being an Olympian meant, I’m going to battle for my country, I’m going to be one of the people chosen to be at my best, present what the U.S.A. has to offer for the rest of the world.

Dave Johnson  

But his journey to the podium wasn’t without its challenges, or more specifically – it wasn’t without serious injuries.


“I ended up being No. 1 in the world coming into the games and ended up having a stress fracture in my foot. I found out just before the games started up,” Johnson said. “I decided to go anyway.”

For Johnson it was all about his mindset as he prepared to compete on the biggest stage. 

"You have to look beyond yourself, beyond what you’ve even trained for when you step on the Olympics soil. Everything drops and you just become a representative of your country."