Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Florence Griffith Joyner
Delorez Florence Griffith Joyner (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 2004. She was the wife of track star Al Joyner and the sister-in-law of Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
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 recognised.
Now known as "Flo Jo", Griffith Joyner was the big favourite 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 tenths. 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.
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, and 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". In and out of competition, Griffith Joyner never failed a drug test.
She retired the next season. In 1998, she died in her sleep of cavernous angioma in Mission Viejo, California. The autopsy established that performing-enhancing drugs did not kill her, although it did not establish whether she took such drugs.
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