Distinguished Women of Past and Present

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Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Joyner-Kersee, Jackie (1962- ), American track and field athlete, two-time Olympic gold medalist and world champion. She was born Jacqueline Joyner in East St. Louis, Illinois, and educated at the University of California, Los Angeles. She won her first of four consecutive National Pentathlon Championships at the age of 14. After graduating from high school she accepted a basketball scholarship to the University of California, where her coach and future husband, Bob Kersee, encouraged her to train for multiple-event contests. In 1983 she and her brother, Al Joyner, represented the United States at the world championships in Helsinki, Finland. They also competed in the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, where she won the silver medal in the heptathlon-a two-day event in which athletes compete in the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, and 200-meter race on the first day and in the long jump, javelin, and 800-meter race on the second day. (Al Joyner won the gold medal in the triple jump.) She married Kersee in 1986, and that same year she gave up basketball for the heptathlon, setting two world records within one month. Joyner-Kersee continued her success in 1987 at the indoor and outdoor track and field championships in the United States, at the Pan-American Games in Indianapolis, Indiana, and at the world championships in Rome, where she won gold medals in the long jump and heptathlon. In 1988 she broke her own record, scoring 7291 points in the heptathlon at the Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, to win the gold medal and set the world, Olympic, and American records in the event. Joyner-Kersee also won the gold medal and set the Olympic record in the long jump at Seoul, with a leap of 24 ft 3 in (7.3 m). At the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, she again won the heptathlon and came in third in the long jump. Joyner-Kersee overcame illness to capture the 1993 heptathlon gold medal at the world championships in Stuttgart, Germany. The recipient of numerous athletic honors and awards in the late 1980s, including the Jesse Owens Award (1986, 1987) and the Sullivan Award (1986), Joyner-Kersee earned a reputation as the world's best all-around female athlete and the greatest heptathlete of all time.

"Joyner-Kersee, Jackie" Microsoft(R) Encarta.
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