Black History Month Profiles: Jackie Joyner-Kersee
A native of Illinois, Jackie Joyner-Kersee is ranked among the all-time greatest athletes in the women’s heptathlon and long jump, voted the greatest female athlete of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated for Women Magazine.
She ran track and played basketball at UCLA, a starting forward her first three seasons then red-shirting her fourth year to concentrate on the 1984 Olympic competition. Joyner-Kersee began her run toward Olympic stardom in 1984, earning a silver medal in the heptathlon. In 1986, she scored more than 7,000 points in the event at the Goodwill Games, becoming the first woman to do so.
Joyner-Kersee bested her performance in the 1988 summer Olympics in Korea by earning gold in the heptathlon and the long jump, setting a world record for the heptathlon of 7,291 points which still stands. Four years late in Barcelona, Joyner-Kersee won gold in the heptathlon and earned bronze in the long jump. She competed in the 1996 games though an injury at the trials hampered her performance significantly. She recovered enough to earn the bronze in the long jump, her last Olympic appearance. Besides her Olympics wins, she earned four gold medals at World Championships and one at the 1987 Pan-American Games.
After a try at pro basketball and a win at the Goodwill Games in 1998, Joyner-Kersee retired in 2001. She later started the self-named Youth Center Foundation to encourage children in her underprivileged hometown to play sports. She helped found Athletes for Hope in 2007 with fellow big-name stars in various sports to involve pro athletes in charitable causes. She is also on the Board of Directors for USA Track & Field.
22. February 2012 09:45
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