Florence Griffith-Joyner

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Florence Griffith-Joyner (born Florence Delorez Griffith[1]), also known as Flo-Jo (December 21, 1959 – September 21, 1998) was an American track and field athlete. She is considered the "fastest woman of all time" based on the fact that she still holds the world record for both the 100 metres and 200 metres, both set in 1988 and never seriously challenged. She died due to epilepsy in 1998 at the age of 38.

Contents

Life

Griffith was born in Los Angeles and raised in the Jordan Downs public housing complex. During the late 1980s she became a popular figure in international track and field due to her record-setting performances and flashy personal style. She was the wife of triple jumper Al Joyner and the sister-in-law of heptathlete and long jumper Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

Griffith finished fourth in the 200 m at the inaugural World Championship in 1983. The following year she gained much more attention, though mostly because of her extremely long and colorful fingernails rather than her silver medal in the Los Angeles Olympics 200 m. In 1985, she won the final of the Grand Prix with 11.00 seconds. After these Olympics she spent less time running, and married the 1984 Olympic triple jump champion Al Joyner in 1987.

Returning at the 1987 World Championships, she finished again second in the 200 m. She stunned the world when — known as a 200 m runner — she ran a 100 m World Record of 10.49 in the quarter-finals of the US Olympic Trials. Several sources indicate that this time was very likely wind-assisted. Although at the time of the race the wind meter at the event measured 0.0, indicating no wind, observers noted evidence of significant wind, and wind speeds up to 7 meters/second were noted at other times during the event. Since 1997 the International Athletics Annual of the Association of Track and Field Statisticians has listed this performance as "probably strongly wind assisted, but recognised as a world record".[2] Griffith-Joyner's coach later stated that he believed the 10.49 run had been aided by wind[citation needed]. Outside this race, Griffith-Joyner's fastest time without wind assistance was 10.61 seconds, which would give her the world record anyway.

By now known to the world as "Flo-Jo", Griffith-Joyner was the big favorite for the titles in the sprint events at the 1988 Summer Olympics. In the 100 m final, she ran a wind-assisted 10.54, beating her nearest rival Evelyn Ashford by 0.3 seconds. In the 200 m quarter-final, she set a world record and then broke that record again winning the final by 0.4 seconds with a time of 21.34. She also ran in the 4 x 100 m and 4 x 400 m relay teams. She won a gold medal in the former event, and a silver in the latter (which is still the second fastest time in history behind the winner of that race), her first international 4 x 400 m relay. Her effort in the 100 m was ranked 98th in British TV Channel 4's 100 Greatest Sporting Moments in 2002. She was the 1988 recipient of the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States. Griffith-Joyner retired from competitive sports shortly afterwards.

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