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Florence Griffith Joyner

American athlete Delorez Florence Griffith Joyner was born on December 21, 1959. At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, she won gold medals in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

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 colourful 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 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.



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