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Jackie Joyner-Kersee: Athletics

Jacqueline “Jackie” Joyner-Kersee (born March 3, 1962) is considered to be the greatest athlete of all time in track and field. She is a retired American athlete in women’s heptathlon and long jump. She won three Olympic gold medals as well as one silver and two bronze. She attended the University of California at Los Angeles where she competed for women’s both track and field and basketball from 1980 to 1985. In 1988, she was named as one of the 15 greatest players in UCLA women’s basketball and in 2001; she was voted the “Top Woman Collegiate Athlete of the Past 25 Years” by members of the NCAA.

Greatest Sporting Achievements

Joyner-Kersee is named the Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century by Sports Illustrated for Women, just ahead of Babe Didrikson Zaharias.

She won a silver medal in the heptathlon at the 1984 Summer Olympics and gold and bronze medals in the long jump in 1988 and 1992. Joyner-Kersee is currently the heptathlon world record-holder, scoring 7,921 points setting a record in the heptathlon four times during the 1988 Summer Olympics.

She is a former record holder for long jump (7.54m), her record broken by Galina Chistyakova in 1988 (7.52m)

Why Was She So Good?

Kenny Moore of Sports Illustrated said this about Jackie Joyner-Kersee, “She wants to win, but having won, wants to go on. She wants to impress, but having performed gloriously, still wants to go on. The Joyner gift is her open joy in practiced, powerful movement, in improvement for its own sake, and it causes observers to presume in error, that what she does is without personal cost.”

What You May Not Know

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There are profiles of past athlete champions from a large range of sports. See also profiles of Olympic athletes and pages about sporting heroes.

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