Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Jackie Joyner-Kersee (born March 3, 1962 in East St. Louis, Illinois) is a retired American athlete, ranked among the all-time greatest athletes in the women's heptathlon as well as in the women's long jump. She won three gold, one silver, and two bronze Olympic medals, in those two different events. "Sports Illustrated for Women" magazine voted Joyner-Kersee the Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th century, just ahead of Babe Didrikson Zaharias.

Early life

Jackie Joyner was born March 3, 1962, in East St. Louis, Illinois. She was named after Jackie Kennedy. She was inspired to compete in multi-disciplinary track & field events after seeing a 1975 made-for-TV movie about Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Interestingly, the trackster, basketball player, and pro golfer Didrikson was chosen the "Greatest Female Athlete of the First Half of the 20th Century. Fifty years later, "Sports Illustrated for Women" magazine voted Joyner-Kersee the greatest female athlete of "all time".


Joyner-Kersee attended college at the University of California at Los Angeles, where she starred in both track & field and in women's basketball from 1980-1985. In basketball, she played forward, and she scored more than 1,000 points during her collegiate career. She was honored on 21 February 1998 as one of the 15 greatest players in UCLA women's basketball. UCLA Women's Basketball 2006-2007 Media guide - Copy available at UCLABRUINS.COM]

In April 2001, Joyner-Kersee was voted the "Top Woman Collegiate Athlete of the Past 25 Years." The vote was conducted among the 976 NCAA member schools. [ [http://uclabruins.cstv.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/042501aaa.html Jackie Joyner-Kersee Is Named The 'Top Woman Collegiate Athlete Of The Past 25 Years] April 25, 2001. UCLA Bruins official Athletic site]


1984 Summer Olympics

Joyner-Kersee competed in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and won the silver medal in the heptathlon.

1986 Goodwill Games

Joyner-Kersee was the first woman to score over 7,000 points in a heptathlon event (during the 1986 Goodwill Games). In 1986, she received the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States.

1988 Summer Olympics

In the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea, Joyner-Kersee earned gold medals in both the heptathlon and the long jump. At the 1988 Games in Seoul, she set the still-standing heptathlon world record of 7,291 points. The silver and bronze medalists were Sabine John and Anke Vater-Behmer, both of whom were representing East Germany. Five days later, Joyner won her second gold medal, leaping to an Olympic record 24 feet, 3 1/2 inches, in the long jump.

1992 Summer Olympics

In the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, Joyner-Kersee earned her third Olympic medal in the heptathlon (one silver and two gold medals). She also won the bronze medal in the long jump - that event was won by her friend Heike Drechsler of Germany.

1996 Summer Olympics

At the Olympic Trials, Joyner-Kersee sustained an injury to her right hamstring. When the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia began, Joyner-Kersee was not fully recovered by the time the heptathlon started. After running the first event, the 100m hurdles, the pain was unbearable and she withdrew. She was able to recover well enough to compete in the long jump and qualify for the final, but was in sixth place in the final with one jump remaining. Her final jump, of 22' 11 3/4", was long enough for her to win the bronze medal. The Atlanta Olympics would be the last Olympic trials of Joyner-Kersee's long competitive career.

Professional Basketball Career

In 1996 she signed on to play pro basketball for the Richmond Rage of the fledgling American Basketball League. Although she was very popular with the fans, she was less successful on the court. She appeared in only 17 games, and scored no more than four points in any game.

1998 Goodwill Games

Returning to track, Joyner-Kersee won the heptathlon again at the 1998 Goodwill Games, scoring 6,502 points.

2000 Olympic Trials

Joyner-Kersee made her final bow in track & field competition in 2000. She was sixth in the long jump (21-10.75) at the Olympic Trials, closing one of the greatest careers in U.S. track & field history.

Current world records

As of August 2008, Joyner-Kersee holds the world record in heptathlon along with six all time best results and her long jump record of 7.49 m is second on the long jump all time list. In addition to heptathlon and long jump, she was a world class athlete in 100 m hurdles and 200 meters being as of June 2006 in top 60 all time in those events.

"Sports Illustrated" voted her the greatest female athlete of the 20th century.

Joyner-Kersee consistently has maintained that she has competed throughout her career without performance-enhancing drugs. [ [http://www.learningtogive.org/papers/index.asp?bpid=107 Kersee, Jackie Joyner] By LaTasha Chaffin Graduate Student, Grand Valley State University.] [Joyner-Kersee, Jackie, and Sonja Steptoe. A Kind of Grace . New York: Warner Brothers Books, 1997. ISBN 0-4465-2248-1. ]

Personal life

Jackie's brother is the Olympic champion triple jumper Al Joyner, who was married to another Olympic track champion, the late Florence Griffith-Joyner. Jackie married her track coach, Bob Kersee, in 1986.

In 1988, Joyner-Kersee established the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation, which provides youth, adults, and families with the resources to improve their quality of life with special attention directed to East St. Louis, Illinois. In 2007, Jackie Joyner-Kersee along with Andre Agassi, Muhammad Ali, Lance Armstrong, Warrick Dunn, Mia Hamm, Jeff Gordon, Tony Hawk, Andrea Jaeger, Mario Lemieux, Alonzo Mourning, and Cal Ripken, Jr. founded the "Athletes for Hope", a charitable organization, which helps professional athletes get involved in charitable causes and inspires millions of non-athletes to volunteer and support the community. [ [http://www.athletesforhope.org/ Athletes for Hope] ]


External links

* [http://vm.mtsac.edu/relays/HallFame/Joyner.htm Relays Hall of Fame]
* [http://www.stlouiswalkoffame.org/inductees/jackie-joyner-kersee.html St. Louis Walk of Fame]
* [http://www.usatf.org/athletes/bios/oldBios/1997/jjk.asp USA Track and Field bio]
* [http://www.usolympicteam.com/26_13367.htm Jackie Joyner-Kersee's U.S. Olympic Team bio]
* [http://uclabruins.cstv.com/genrel/031904aaa.html Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational] Annual track meet event hosted by UCLA honoring her and Rafer Johnson, another outstanding UCLA Olympic gold medalist
* [http://jackiejoyner-kerseefoundation.org The Jackie Joyner Kersee Foundation] , founded by Jackie and her husband. She also had a hard young life, witnessing death young, and being born to teenage parents.
* [http://www.depauw.edu/news/index.asp?id=21565 Commencement Address at DePauw University]
* [http://www.athletesforhope.org/ Athletes for Hope]

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