Florence Griffith Joyner is considered the best female track star ever to have competed at the Olympic level. Joyner still holds the fastest record for the 100-meter and 200-meter dash and collected three gold medals during the 1988 Summer Olympic Games in Seoul. Joyner’s record times have been difficult for other athletes to even come close to reaching. The closest anyone has come to Joyner’s record-shattering time of 10.49 seconds in the 100-meter dash was Marion Jones, coming in at 10.65 seconds. Joyner’s 200-meter record time is 21.34.
Known by the creative nickname “Flo-Jo” after her marriage to fellow Olympic track star Al Joyner, Florence Joyner brought a distinctive style to track and field with her running and her personal fashion sense. The 1980s track star sported vibrant and unique racing outfits and long, colorful fingernails. Joyner, a native of the Watts community in Los Angeles, blew audiences away with her bold sense of style, but even more so with her record-setting performances. Joyner won a total of four medals in the Seoul Olympics, taking home gold in the 100- and 200-meter and the 4×100 relay race and a silver in the 4×400 relay.
She retired after the ’88 Games. Over the next several years, there was speculation in track circles and the media that Joyner’s remarkable feats may have been aided by performance-enhancing drugs. She denied it and she never failed a drug test during her career. Upon retirement from track and field, Joyner decided to give back. She started a foundation with her husband, helping children in need. She also put her fashion sense to work, including designing the NBA’s Indiana Pacers uniform. Her beauty and sports knowledge led her to a career in television, serving as a sportscaster.
Sadly, Joyner’s life ended suddenly at the age of 38. She died in her sleep of an epileptic seizure in September 1998. However, in the short time that Joyner graced the earth, she made an undeniable impact in the world of sports.