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FloJo Made Speed Fashionable

Wednesday, November 19, 2003
FloJo sets 100 record at 1988 Olympic Trials
By Kris Schwartz
Special to

Signature Event

July 16, 1988 - At the beginning of the day, the 100-meter world record of 10.76 seconds belonged to Evelyn Ashford. But at the Olympic Trials in Indianapolis, Florence Griffith Joyner shocked the track-and-field community in the quarterfinal heat of the 100 meters.

In her first heat, Joyner, known better as a 200-meter sprinter, opened with a blistering 10.60, but because it was wind-aided, it didn't count as a record. Then came the incredible -- 10.49 seconds.

Dressed in a purple "one-legger" with a turquoise bikini brief, she took a huge lead after the first 50 meters. While people have debated over the 0.0 wind gauge reading (the winds were gusting that day), her record still stands atop the record book.

Joyner later finished off the competition by running a 10.70 in the semifinals and 10.61 in the final. These were the third- and second-best times ever run.

In "Athletics 2000," which is the guide book for the Association of Track & Field Statisticians, published by the IAAF, it says about Joyner's 10.49 race on page 299: "Probably, strongly wind-assisted, but recognized as a U.S. and world record."

Odds 'n' Ends

  • Joyner's mother was a disciplinarian. She didn't allow her daughter to watch television during the week and had a lights-out rule at 10 p.m.

  • In 1965, Florence began running at the Sugar Ray Robinson Foundation. She said that Robinson was a big influence on her because of what he gave back to the community.

  • At 14, she won the Jesse Owens National Youth Games and went to San Francisco as a reward.

  • The following year, she won again. But Owens himself told her she couldn't go to Texas because she had gone to San Francisco the previous year. She said she "didn't like that man," but later found out who he was and quickly changed her perception.

  • Unsatisfied with the uniforms girls had to wear at Jordan High School, she convinced her track team to wear tights with their uniforms.

  • At 20, she tried out for the 1980 Olympic team, but finished fourth in the 200 meters, one spot from qualifying.

  • She met her future husband, Al Joyner, at the 1980 U.S. Olympic Trials.

  • They occasionally met at meets. Al's sister, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, said that when Al was at Arkansas State, he used to call Jackie up at UCLA and say, "I'm going to come out there and get me that Florence Griffith." They married in 1987.

  • FloJo watched a tape of Ben Johnson's start out of the blocks at the 1987 World Championships when he set the 100-meter world record of 9.83. She tried to mimic his opening burst and realized she needed stronger legs to do so. Weighing 130 pounds, she soon was able to put up a 320-pound squat.

  • At the 4x400 Olympic relay in 1988, FloJo ran the fastest split of any U.S. runner but she wasn't able to catch the Soviet Union's Olha Bryzhina, the 400-meter Olympic champion who took a two-meter lead into the anchor leg.

  • FloJo received the Jesse Owens International Trophy Award for being the world's 1988 outstanding athlete in an amateur sport, and the Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the U.S.

  • After her retirement in 1989, a FloJo doll was introduced.

  • Joyner established her own clothing design and cosmetics businesses.

  • She was a spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society, the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation and Project Eco-School.

  • In 1993, President Bill Clinton named her co-chairperson of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sport.

  • In 1994, along with her husband Al, she co-founded the Florence Griffith Joyner Foundation for disadvantaged youth.

  • In 1995, she was inducted to the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame.

  • FloJo attempted a comeback for the 1996 Atlanta Games, but after suffering tendinitis in her right knee, she didn't compete in the Olympic Trials.

  • The next person down the list from FloJo's world record 100-meter time of 10.49 seconds is Marion Jones, at 10.65.

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