More than 30 years after she sprinted to three gold medals in the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games, Florence Griffith Joyner is still considered the fastest woman of all time.
Remarkably, FloJo, as she was known, set world records in both the 100- and 200-meter races that have stood for more than 30 years.
Griffith Joyner was not known for just her speed. She was also visible for her fashion, flowing hair and long fingernails. While other runners would do everything to avoid potentially being slowed down, Griffith Joyner had long hair, long fingernails and plenty of jewelry. She wore one-legged running suits and bold colors.
One of 11 children, Griffith Joyner began running as a youngster and started her college career at California State University at Northridge, helping the Matadors win the AIAW national championship as a freshman before dropping out of school to work as a bank teller. Griffith Joyner returned to school a year later at UCLA.
Griffith Joyner participated in the 1980 U.S. Olympic Trials and four years later qualified for the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games, where her Olympic debut resulted in a silver medal in the 200-meter race. At the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games, Griffith Joyner put forth a sensational effort. She set a world record in the 200-meter semifinals and then broke that mark in the finals with a gold-medal run of 21.34 seconds. In the 100-meter dash, Griffith Joyner also took gold in 10.54 seconds, just off the 10.49-second world record she had set at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Both marks have stood the test of time. Griffith Joyner also won a gold medal in the 4×100-meter relay and a silver in the 4×400-meter relay.
Griffith Joyner retired from competition in 1989 and focused on business opportunities. Her work included designing the Indiana Pacers’ uniforms for the 1989-90 season.
Griffith Joyner passed away in 1998 after suffering a severe epileptic seizure in her sleep. She was 38.