U.S. OLYMPIC FESTIVAL : LOS ANGELES--1991 : ATHLETES TO WATCH : Among 3,000 Competitors, Some Will Stand Out


Track and Field

Although he didn't participate in organized sports until his senior year in high school, Dave Johnson stayed fairly active as a teen-ager in Missoula, Mont. His favorite activities? Throwing rocks at cars, breaking into homes and running from the law.

"Basic training for the decathlon," Johnson said.

But after he and his family moved to Corvallis, Ore., just before his senior year, Johnson found sports more to his liking. Today, Johnson, a 28-year-old Pomona resident, is one of the world's best decathletes and one of the sport's model citizens.

Johnson has scored the highest point total in the world for the last two years. His winning (but wind-aided) score of 8,600 at The Athletics Congress championships last year at Cerritos gave him his third TAC title in five years. Last month, he finished second at the TAC to Dan O'Brien. But Johnson, a 6-foot-3, 195-pounder, wasn't discouraged. He thinks he can break the American record at the Festival.

Actually, Johnson already holds the American record--sort of. A change in the javelin altered the decathlon scoring in 1985, so Bruce Jenner's 15-year-old mark of 8,634 is considered the "old" American record and Johnson's legal best of 8,549 is considered the "modern" version.

Johnson wants to own the record outright. But if he can't better Jenner's mark, he'd at least like to break his own career record.

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