Florence Griffith Joyner Olympic Medal Record Women's Athletics Gold 1988 Seoul 100 m Gold 1988 Seoul 200 m Gold 1988 Seoul 4x100 m Silver 1984 Los Angeles 200 m Silver 1988 Seoul 4x400 m Delorez Florence Griffith-Joyner a.k.a. Flo-Jo (December 21, 1959 - September 21, 1998) was an American athlete, still holder of the World Records in the 100 m and 200 m as of 2005. She was the wife of track star Al Joyner and the sister-in-law of Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
Already fast at an early age, Los Angeles born Florence Griffith finished fourth in the 200 m at the inaugural World Championships in 1983.
The following year, she gained much more attention, though mostly because of her extremely long and colorful fingernails rather than her silver medal in the Los Angeles Olympics 200 m.
After these Olympics, Griffith spent less time running and married 1984 Olympic triple jump champion Al Joyner. Returning at the 1987 World Championships, she finished second in the 200 m again.
She stunned the world when - known as a 200 m runner - she ran a new 100 m World Record of 10.49 in the quarter-finals of the US Olympic Trials. Many later suggested the wind meter in the stadium malfunctioned during the race, but the record is still recognized.
Known lovingly by the world as "Flo-Jo", Griffith-Joyner was the big favorite for the titles in the sprint events at the 1988 Summer Olympics. In the 100 m, she ran a (wind-assisted) 10.54 in the final, beating her nearest rival Evelyn Ashford by 3 tenths of a second. In the 200 m, she set a new world record of 21.34, winning by .4 seconds. Griffith-Joyner was also a runner in both the 4 x 100 m and 4 x 400 m relay teams. She won a gold medal in the former event, and a silver in the latter, her first international 4 x 400 m relay. Her effort in the 100m was ranked 98th in Channel 4's 100 Greatest Sporting Moments in 2002. She was the 1988 recipient of the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States.
Throughout her career, Griffith-Joyner was dogged by rumors of drug use. Some of her track competitors insisted that her times could only be the result of using steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs, mainly because her performance improved dramatically over a short period of time (and when she was rather old for a sprinter), but also because some claimed she sported a tiny moustache; also, her voice deepened and her jaw-line thickened. Some athletes also claimed that her glamorous trackwear, vivid make-up and elaborately-decorated fingernails were designed to distract from the physical changes due to steroids.
Her sudden death only fuelled these rumors. In 1989, another sprinter, Darrell Robinson, claimed that Griffith-Joyner had paid him to obtain human growth hormone. She denied this, calling him a "compulsive, crazy, lying lunatic".
Griffith-Joyner never failed a drug test, but this was at a time when there was no testing out of competition. The probative value of her not failing is low: following the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe it was revealed that, as suspected, drug taking was rife in Iron Curtain countries, yet none of their athletes tested positive in the 1980s either, at a time when we now know they were taking them. When the IAAF announced after the 1988 season that they were going to test randomly out of competition, Griffith Joyner retired from competition. Like other pre-random testing female records, e.g., the 400 m record, her records are far out of reach of even the best female athletes of today.
Among the things she did away from the track was design the basketball uniforms for the Indiana Pacers.
In 1998, she died in her sleep in Mission Viejo, California. She suffocated in her bed during a seizure which was probably caused by a cavernous angioma. The autopsy established that performance-enhancing drugs did not kill her, although it did not establish whether she took such drugs in the past.