2 minute read

Florence Griffith Joyner

Griffith Joyner's Legacy

Griffith Joyner had both style and substance. She overcame poverty to be the best in her sport, all while adding a touch of style. "In sum, Griffith Joyner… is as complex and fascinating as Olympic athletes come," Axthelm and Abramson wrote, shortly before her death. "Her life and career have had been filled with steep rises and falls, and she has persevered with strength and flair. She plays up her good looks as few Olympians have. But she also reads the Bible daily, prays before every meal and calls her mother at least twice a day."

Awards and Accomplishments

1973 Wins Jesse Owens National Youth Games
1981 Breaks American college record in World Cup 4×100-meter relay
1982 Wins NCAA championship in 200-meter run
1983 Wins NCAA championship in 400-meter run
1984 Wins silver medal for 200-meter run at Olympics
1988 Breaks women's world record time for 100 meters
1988 Becomes first American woman to win four medals in one Olympics
1988 Named U.S. Olympic Committee's Sportswoman of the Year
1988 Named Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year
1988 Named UPI Sportswoman of the Year
1988 Named Track and Field magazine's Athlete of the Year
1988 Named Jesse Owens Outstanding Track and Field Athlete
1988 Wins Sullivan Award for top amateur athlete
1995 Inducted into the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame

Shared Passion for Fitness

Recognized for her intricately painted fingernails and brightly colored, often one-legged outfits, Olympic champion runner Florence Griffith Joyner ("Flo-Jo") captured the affection of the world with a combination of speed, grace and beauty. In the 1980s, when women athletes were given much less regard than their male counterparts, Flo-Jo helped female athletes gain respect. In fact, Flo-Jo's victories may have opened people's eyes to the talented female athletes in all sports and laid the groundwork for the public's embrace of this year's FIFA Women's World Cup soccer teams.

Source: Durrett, April. IDEA Health & Fitness Source, October 1999, p. 47.

Griffith Joyner admitted to having a small circle of friends, but added: "That doesn't bother me because with or without friends I have a million and one things to do. I don't frighten people away. They frighten themselves away."

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsTrack and FieldFlorence Griffith Joyner Biography - Born To Run, Olympic Dreams, World's Fastest Woman, Chronology, A Life Ended Too Soon