“Conventional is not for me, I like things that are uniquely Flo. I like being different”
Also known as Flo-Jo or that girl cause it’s what she is. The fastest woman of all time & even Beyoncé knows; paying homage to the field & track athlete last October. Born in Los Angeles, California, Florence Delorez Griffith was the 7th child of 11. Her mother was a seamstress & her father an electronic engineer. Florence’s interest in the field was piqued from a young age. In elementary school she joined the Sugar Ray Robinson Organization, running in track meets on weekends. Years later; in 2000 the 102nd Street School in L.A was renamed Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School.
Talk about life’s foreshadowing!
At the age of 14 & 15 consecutively Florence won the Jesse Owens National Youth Games two years in a row.
As a high school senior in 1978, Florence finished sixth at the CIF California State Meet. Showing an early interest in fashion she begged her teammates to wear tights with their uniforms.
Before graduating, Florence set high school records for sprinting & long jump. When it was time for college Florence attended the California State University at North Ridge. She was on the track team coached by Bob Kersee. This team won the national championship during Griffith’s 1st year! Unfortunately, after this Florence had to drop out of college, securing a job as a bank teller to help financially support her family. In 1980 Florence returned to college. This time to the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), thanks to her skills & her coach who didn’t forget her; Bob Kersee.
In UCLA Kersee was a coach. Griffith qualified for the 100-meter final at the trials for the 1980 Summer Olympics, in an unexpected curveball the U.S decided to boycott that year’s Olympic Games. However, in 1983 Griffith did graduate with her bachelor’s in psychology. After college Griffith took a load off her running plate. She basically did it part-time, still breaking notable records, like the 100m IAAF Grand Prix Final. She got married to Al Joyner, the Olympic triple jump champion of 1984, in 1987. This same year, she returned to athletics, finishing 2nd at the 1987 World Championships in Rome, only 4 months after! Before the 1988 U.S Olympic Trials Griffith-Joyner continued to work with her coach Kersee twice a week & with her husband coaching three days in a week. During the 1988 U.S Olympic Trials Griffith-Joyner recorded the 3 fastest times for a woman at 100 meters: 10.49 in the quarter-final, 10.70 in the semi-final, & 10.61 in the finals. At the same Olympic trials Griffith-Joyner also set an American record at the 200-meter distance with a time of 21.77 secs.
Whew! The Black girl magic jumped out.
After the Olympic Trials Flo-Jo parted ways with her longtime coach, leaving her husband as her full-time coach. In the 1988 Summer Olympic Flo-Jo ran 10.54 secs in a 100m final. She set a world record on the 200m semifinal of 21.56 secs. Breaking it, her own record; in the final, with a time of 21.34 secs. Flo-Jo’s team also won the 4 x 100 m relay. She won 4 Olympic medals that year. & in 1989, Flo-Jo announced her retirement from running. Her sense of style was another reason why she was exceptional. While other athletes would wear their hair shorter & avoid jewelry to as remain at light weight on the field, Flo- Jo expressed herself. She designed most of her fits herself. Known for her funky track wears. A popular one was dubbed the “one-legger”. Flo-Jo loved her nails long, rocking bright colors or stripes on them every chance she got. She was a artist & a painter & some of her work is displayed as part of the Art of The Olympians. Unfortunately, in 1988, Flo-Jo passed away. She was just 38. After the birth of her child the athlete was said to have been suffering from serious seizures that later claimed her life. Her world records still stands till today. In 1995, Flo-Jo was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of fame.