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Monday, October 18, 2021

The Legacy of Flo-Jo, Track and Field Olympian

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Florence “Flo-Jo” Griffith Joyner, in a one-legged blue bodysuit, bolted from the starting blocks and into the world record books at the 1988 Olympic trials.

The track legend passed away 23 years ago on this day.

Joyner swept the 1988 Olympics Games in Seoul, taking home gold medals in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and 4×100-meter relay.

Mandatory Credit: Tony Duffy /Allsport

Joyner’s world records—10.49 seconds in the 100-meter sprint and 21.34 seconds in the 200-meter sprint—remained far out of reach from her successors, until recently.

Hot on Flo-Jo’s heels, Jamaican athlete Elaine Thompson-Herah beat Joyner’s 100-meter Olympic record and earned her place as the fastest woman alive with a time of 10.61.

Thompson-Herah, who has since improved her 100-meter time, took notes from Flo-Jo’s historic races to perfect her sprint.

With Thompson-Herah closing in on Flo-Jo’s world record, the chase is heating up and Joyner—who died 23 years ago today—would be proud.

“I remember she once told me, ’I never want anybody to be like me. I want them to make bigger footsteps than me,’” said Flo-Jo’s husband Al Joyner in a 2021 interview for The Associated Press.

Two-time Olympic medalist Gabby Thomas dashed towards Flo-Jo’s 200-meter record with a time of 21.61.

“21.61 seconds- best to ever do it behind FloJo,” tweeted Thomas.

Joyner’s successors not only admire her stunning times, but also her flair for fashion.

Outspoken sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson—who earned her place as the sixth fastest woman ever with a time of 10.72 in 100-meters—dashes to the finish line in a colorful blur reminiscent of the 1980’s stylish speedster.

“Flo-Jo came to the track and knew she was going to dominate,” said Richardson according to an article in The Associated Press. “The way she did that was graceful. I always liked that. If the amazing Flo-Jo had long nails, there was no excuse why I couldn’t have long nails.”

Joyner’s legacy is one of lightening-speed run times and eccentric fashion, inspiring runners to blaze down the track with confidence and set records of their own.

“When I see Richardson and Elaine Thompson, they remind me of my late wife,” Al Joyner said in The Associated Press interview.

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