A Special Daily Resource Shared by Kerry Ruff
Thursday, February 11th, 2021
Florence Delorez Griffith Joyner was born on December 21, 1959 in Los Angeles, California and she was one of eleven kids born to Robert and Florence Griffith. Florence grew up to be very athletic and began competing in track meets; winning the Jesse Owens National Youth Games two years in a row at the age of 14 and 15. By the time Florence graduated high school in 1978, she had set records for the school in sprinting and long jump. Florence attended California State University at Northbridge and was on the track team where they won the national championship, her freshman year. She would drop out of college to support her family financially by taking a job as a bank teller. Her track coach would find the financial aid that would allow Florence to return to college in 1980 at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). In 1983, she would graduate from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She would qualify for the 1984 Summer Olympics where she would win a silver media in the 200 meter. Florence did not compete in the 1985 U.S National Championship and returned to working at the bank and styling hair and nails in her spare time. She would meet and marry Al Joyner, an Olympic triple jump champion. She returned to training in 1987 where she spilt her time training between her college coach and her husband coach. At the 1988 U.S Olympic Trials, in the first race of quarterfinals, Florence stunned everyone when she sprinted 100 meters in 10.49 seconds, a new world record. Over the next two days of trials, Mrs. Griffith-Joyner recorded the three fastest times for a woman at 100 meters and set an American record at the 200-meter distance with a time of 21.77 seconds. By now, the world would know Florence Joyner as “Flo-Jo” and at the 1988 Summer Olympics, she would run a 10.54 second 100-meter final beating the previous record by 0.30 seconds. In the 200-meter semi-final, Flo-Jo set the world record of 21.56 seconds and then broke this record by winning the final with a time of 21.34 seconds. Leaving those Olympic Games, Florence won 3 gold medals and one silver medal. At the time, her medal haul was the second most for a female track and field athlete in history. In 1989, Flo-Jo announced her retirement from running but her success only began to grow. She earned millions of dollars from endorsement deals and she would design the basketball uniforms for the NBA team Indiana Pacers. My favorite thing about Florence, she had a sense of style that only she could incorporate into her running and training. At the World Championships Games in 1987 in Rome, Flo would wear a hooded speed skating body suit. In 1988, she started wearing a running suit with the right leg of the suit extending to the ankle and the left leg of the suit cut off, she called it the “one legger”. Her running suits were always bold in color like lime green, purple or pink and she would embellished them with lighting bolts. Her nails were 4 to 6 inches long and were always designed based on her mood. Many sprinters avoided accessories but not Flo-Jo, she embraced them and kept her hair long too while competing. She designed many of her own outfits and they are always so creative. Today we honor the woman who still holds the records for both the 100 and 200 meter, declaring her the fastest woman of all time. She created her own lane with her sense of style and was able to be creative in her own way on the track field. Thank you. Happy Black History Month.