Cindy Johnson, who still holds the state record in the girls discus that she set her senior year in 1982 at Chandler High, died Nov. 17 from medical complications related to an undisclosed illness. She was 50.
Johnson set the record of 176 feet, 4 inches, a record some track and field experts believe may never be broken. The next closest all-time in Arizona is 160-10.
“The thing that stood out about Cindy was her competitiveness,” said John Carlson, Johnson’s track and field coach at Chandler, who spoke at Johnson’s funeral. “She pushed herself. She would work out three times a day during the summer.”
Johnson, who was living in Gilbert, also was a softball standout who 10 years ago was the most valuable player of a women’s world softball tournament, her mother, Sharon, said.
“I remember when she was a kid, she’d play softball and the parents would go to me, ‘Don’t you ever get tired of watching your daughter hit home runs?’ ” Sharon said.
Johnson threw the discus and shot put at USC, but a back injury kept her from realizing a dream of competing in the Olympics.
Carlson’ first impression came when Johnson was a seventh-grader and threw a softball from center field to home plate on a line.
“She loved softball,” Carlson said. “We got her in track, and she set 29 records. She broke her own record 19 times.
“She didn’t have any competition, so I would ask the boys coaches if she could throw unattached against the boys in meets. They would say no because she threw farther than them.”
Johnson held the girls state shot put record of 47-5, before recent Chandler High graduate Ky Westbrook broke that in 2013 with a toss of 47-9.
Johnson received a kidney transplant about five years ago, her mother said. Cindy’s sister donated the kidney. But her mother said Johnson’s death wasn’t a result of the transplant. Sharon added that her daughter had other medical issues, which Sharon declined to disclose.