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Virgen: 3B Athletica aims to help Olympians

July 20, 2012|By Steve Virgen
  • U.S. Olympic gold medalist Rafer Johnson, left, and 1972 Olympian Ed Ratleff, right, spoke at a fundraiser for 3B Athletica and U.S. Olympians.
U.S. Olympic gold medalist Rafer Johnson, left, and 1972… (STEVE VIRGEN, Daily…)

Rafer Johnson delivered a simple, yet powerful message Saturday morning in Newport Coast.

He made a statement that could be applied to athletics as well as any other situation in life.

"Be the best you can be," the former Olympic gold and silver medalist said to a small group at the home of Tim and Jennifer Buckley.

Johnson, along with 1972 basketball Olympian Ed Ratleff, were there to represent and support a new charity organization called 3B Athletica, which raises money and assistance for Olympic athletes. It's 3B Athletica that wants to help athletes be the best they can be.

Johnson was an amazing athlete. As a decathlete he said he didn't focus as much on winning. He was more concerned about performing at his best. That was the influence he received from mentors and coaches. They also provided constant encouragement to young Rafer, who grew up in Kingsburg, in the Central Valley.

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Encouragement was key in the lives of Johnson and Ratleff. That's why they are on board with 3B Athletica, which was started up by Lindsay Buckley, a Corona del Mar High alum.

The athletes who are part of 3B Athletica mentor and work with young athletes, many who live in Los Angeles.

Lindsay came up with the idea after becoming friends with Olympic swimmer Kate Ziegler. After finishing up at USC in 2010, Lindsay moved back home, where Ziegler also stayed. The Buckleys became a host family for Ziegler, as she prepared for this summer's Olympics in London.

"Kate showed me the need for assistance for Olympic athletes," said Lindsay, who saw Ziegler stay at the Buckleys rent free and gain grocery vouchers from other supporters to maintain training without too much worry of finances.

Lindsay has seen 3B Athletica come together with the help of her parents, as well as Johnson and Ratleff.

Johnson and Ratleff weren't paid to speak to the group. They actually provided valuable stories of their lives.

Johnson shared the story about the assassination ofRobert F. Kennedyafter Tim Buckley asked about it. After Sirhan Sirhan shot Kennedy, Johnson and Rosey Grier apprehended Sirhan.

Johnson said it was reaction to go after the gun when Kennedy was shot.

"I got my hand on the gun along with Rosey Grier's hand," Johnson said. "We all went down together. I took the gun and put it in my pocket."

Ratleff shared his love for basketball and also talked about the 1972 Olympic men's basketball team that protested receiving the silver medal after its controversial one-point loss to the Soviet Union.

"Maybe I can get a medal from Rafer," Ratleff joked.

After the Olympics, Lindsay said 3B Athletica will have a formal banquet to raise more money. More information can be found at http://www.3BAthletica.org.

steve.virgen@latimes.com

Twitter: @SteveVirgen

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