Dear Athletes… A letter from Kathy Johnson Clarke to the athletes competing at the 2024 Olympic Gymnastics Trials

Dear Athletes… A letter from Kathy Johnson Clarke to the athletes competing at the 2024 Olympic Gymnastics Trials

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars

1984 Olympic team silver and balance beam bronze medalist Kathy Johnson Clarke shares her words of encouragement to the athletes competing at the 2024 Olympic Trials.

Dear Athletes,

It’s often said that luck is when preparation meets opportunity, and with that I often add the harder one works the luckier one gets. Though this is truth personified there are many things for which athletes have no control, which is why I encourage wishes, hopes, positive thoughts, and prayers not for outcomes or results, but always for good health (as healthy as a body can be when it is pushed to its limits as you all do), a calm, peaceful, sharp mind and spirit, good energy and luck as you meet this moment for which you’ve all prepared and given your everything to be at your very best. Godspeed!

There is such simple beauty in achieving what I believe is the ultimate goal of any athlete, which is being all you can be by doing everything humanly possible each and every day to be positive and productive in order to perform under pressure, which the great Billie Jean King said it best, is a privilege. It IS a privilege, but I will even go one step further and say pressure is a GIFT. It is a gift that will keep on giving because this experience is the chance of a lifetime to make a dream become a reality or get as close as possible. In other words, you get to define your own success and be proud of all you did to achieve it by knowing you did your best and committed to going all out and leaving nothing in your control to chance so you have no regrets when all is said and done. You have already proven your talent, work ethic, dedication, determination, and resilience just by getting here. Most remarkable? You have shown what I am most proud of, and that is your genuine empathetic caring support of one another. Wow, I am blown away by your character!

When NUMBERS determine results and places, the Olympic Team is limited to just five gymnasts and four replacement athletes, and you have no control over how others perform, score, or how your and their routine strengths fit into the team selection puzzle you are left with the most remarkable and empowering choice: 

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

Most important, no matter the outcome, you are loved, respected, admired and celebrated.




Love, KJC

As captain of two Olympic Teams (’80 and ’84) and four World Championship teams, Kathy Johnson Clarke won team silver and bronze on balance beam at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. She joined the SEC Network in 2015 as an analyst after nearly 33 years working as a television commentator. Prior to that, she graced all three networks and provided television and radio commentary for ABC Sports and ESPN. In addition to television, Kathy volunteers at local schools near her home in Orlando, Fla. and remains one of the most recognized and respected “voices” in the world of gymnastics as a spokesperson for Childhelp’s Blow the Whistle on Child Abuse and an ardent advocate for children’s education, health and well-being. Kathy retired from commentating following the 2024 NCAA season and continues to be an incredible advocate for the sport and the athletes.

Photo credits: Lloyd Smith for Inside Gymnastics; Dave Black

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