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Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Olympic Athlete

Learn more about the life of track and field star Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
Grades:
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Themes:

1962-
Track and Field Athlete and Olympic Star
Birthplace: St. Louis, IL
Education: University of California at Los Angeles

Jacqueline Joyner was born in East St. Louis, IL, on March 3, 1962. She grew up in poverty. As a result of her academic and athletic success, she was awarded a basketball scholarship to UCLA. Her coach (and future husband), Bob Kersee, saw her talent and encouraged her to train for multiple-event contests like heptathalons. A heptathlon is a contest for women and is made up of seven events (Day one: 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, and 200-meter dash. Day two: long jump, javelin throw, and 800-meter run). Although she was afflicted with asthma, she continued to train.

Jackie competed at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and won the silver medal in the heptathlon. In 1988, she surpassed her own record in the Olympic heptathlon in Seoul, South Korea, winning the gold medal and setting the world record for the event. She also won the gold medal and set the Olympic record in the long jump. She won a gold again at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. Due to a hamstring injury, Joyner-Kersee withdrew from the heptathlon during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta; however, she won a bronze medal for the long jump.

She joined the American Basketball League team "Richmond Rage" in 1996, and she retired from track in 1998. Jackie has been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs; however, she has never failed a drug test. She overcame poverty, family tragedies, and asthma is recognized as the most outstanding female athlete ever.


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Return to the Encyclopedia of Prominent African Americans
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