Athletes Olympic athlete

Florence Griffith Joyner

Florence Griffith Joyner was an American track and field athlete. She is considered the fastest woman of all time based on the fact that the world records she set in 1988 for both the 100 m and 200 m still stand.

She is considered the fastest woman of all time based on the fact that the world records she set in 1988 for both the 100 m and 200 m still stand.

During the late 1980s she became a popular figure in international track and field because of her record-setting performances and flashy personal style.

While attending California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), she continued to compete in track and field.

While still in college, Griffith-Joyner qualified for the 100 m 1980 Olympics, although she did not actually compete due to the U.S. boycott.

She made her Olympic debut four years later, winning a silver medal in the 200 meter distance at the 1984 Olympics held in Los Angeles.

At the 1988 U.S. Olympic trials, Griffith set a new world record in the 100 meter sprint. She went on to win three gold medals at the 1988 Olympics.

In February 1989, she abruptly retired. After her retirement from athletics, Griffith-Joyner remained a pop culture figure through endorsement deals, acting, and designing.

She died in her sleep as the result of an epileptic seizure in 1998 at the age of 38.

  • Full name: Florence Griffith Joyner
  • Profession: American track and field athlete
  • Born: 21 December 1959, Los Angeles, California, United States
  • Died: 21 September 1998, Mission Viejo, California, United States
  • Height: 1.7 m
  • Spouse: Al Joyner (m. 1987–1998)
  • Nicknames: The Fastest Woman in the World, Dee-Dee, Flo-Jo
  • Education: Jordan High School, California State University, Northridge, University of California, Los Angeles

About Florence Griffith Joyner

Griffith was born on 21 December 1959, Los Angeles, California, United States. She is the seventh of eleven children born to Robert, an electronic engineer and Florence Griffith, a seamstress.

The family lived in Littlerock, California before Florence Griffith moved with her children to the Jordan Downs public housing complex located in the Watts section of Los Angeles.

When Griffith was in elementary school, she joined the Sugar Ray Robinson Organization, running in track meets on weekends.

She won the Jesse Owens National Youth Games two years in a row, at the ages of 14 and 15. Griffith ran track at Jordan High School in Los Angeles.

Showing an early interest in fashion, Griffith persuaded the members of the track team to wear tights with their uniforms.

As a high school senior in 1978, she finished sixth at the CIF California State Meet behind future teammates Alice Brown and Pam Marshall.

Nevertheless, by the time Griffith graduated from Jordan High School in 1978, she set high school records in sprinting and long jump.


Griffith attended the California State University at Northridge, and was on the track team coached by Bob Kersee.

This team, which included Brown and Jeanette Bolden, won the national championship during Griffith’s first year of college.

However, Griffith had to drop out to support her family, taking a job as a bank teller. Kersee found financial aid for Griffith and she returned to college in 1980, this time at University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) where Kersee was working as a coach.

Brown, Bolden, and Griffith qualified for the 100-meter final at the trials for the 1980 Summer Olympics (with Brown winning and Griffith finishing last in the final).

Griffith also ran the 200 meters, narrowly finishing fourth, a foot out of a qualifying position.

However, the U.S. Government had already decided to boycott those Olympic Games mooting those results. In 1983, Griffith graduated from UCLA with her bachelor’s degree in psychology.