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Florence Griffith Joyner: Fastest Woman to Ever Run 100M and 200M Races


Florence Griffith Joyner was a flashy athlete. She arrived on track with shiny leggings, long painted nails, and weaves. As if that wasn’t enough to court attention, Griffith Joyner’s physic sparked accusations that she was on performance-enhancement drugs to get ahead. Her sudden death in 1998 fueled these claims. However, these allegations weren’t proven. Here’s the full story of Florence Griffith Joyner.

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Florence Griffith Joyner’s Early Years

Fondly known as Flo Jo, she started running at the age of 7. At school, she joined the Sugar Ray Robinson Organization and won the Jesse Owens National Youth Games. In high school, the budding athlete represented Jordan High School. 

At the college level, she ran for the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). She established herself on the track and won the 200 and the 400-meter events.

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Florence Griffith Joyner’s Senior Career

In 1983, Joyner participated in her first major racing competition. Although she finished fourth in the 200-meter sprint at the World Championships, Flo-Jo qualified for the 1984 Olympics. She won a silver medal in the 200-meter and clocked a world record time of 21.34.

Later, she stepped away from athletics for a while and worked in the bank. She also got married to long jumper Al Joyner, hence her name, Florence Joyner or Flo-Jo. On her return, her husband became her coach. 

With the 1987 World Championships approaching, Florence Griffith Joyner resumed training. At the event, she clinched a gold medal in the 4 by 100 meters, and was second in the 200 meters. 

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1988 Olympics & World Record

Video by Total Running Productions

Florence Griffith Joyner’s next event was the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Ahead of the Olympic trials, Flo-Jo lowered her times in the 100 meters. She ran 10.96 seconds, 10.89 seconds, and 10.99. 

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During the Olympic trials, Florence Griffith Joyner clocked 10.49 seconds and set a new world record for the fastest 100-meter run by a woman, a record that still stands today. During the competition, Flo-Jo ran 21.34 seconds to set a world record in the 200 meters. 

Additionally, Joyner won the 4 by 100 and 4 by 400 meters events to take her gold medal tally to four: three gold, and one silver.

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After so much success at the 1988 Olympics, Florence announced her retirement from the sport. This was necessitated by the opportunities she got outside sports. 

The former athlete got numerous endorsement deals and made several television appearances. That said, Flo-Jo attempted to relaunch her career in the 400-meters. However, she suffered from tendinitis, and it prevented her from making her comeback.  

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Doping Allegations

Video by Running Maniac

Numerous claims were made about how Florence Griffith Joyner managed to lower her world record times. She reduced her 100-meter time by 0.47 seconds, and she shed 0.67 seconds from her 200 meters. 

Her muscular physique fueled speculation that she used performance-enhancement drugs to improve her time. However, she refuted the allegations and insisted that she never failed a drug test

Despite the controversy that faced Florence Griffith Joyner, she has remained an icon in female athletics. Her non-apologetic show of style on the track and her fierceness set her apart. The world records she holds will always lead to consideration of her being one of the greatest female athletes in the sport. 

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