Sports Star Salute: Jackie Joyner-Kersee
If we’re looking for female athletes who blazed a trail and set a great example of where focus and determination can take you, look no further than the legend that is Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Once named Sports Illustrated’s ‘Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century’, this six time Olympic medalist was one badass heptathlete and long jumper. So badass was she in fact, that she still holds the heptathlon world record that she set at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
As a youngster, she always showed athletic promise – she was fast and she could jump. She played on her high school basketball team and took to the long jump with ease. Before long she caught the eye of Bob Kersee, the assistant track coach at UCLA who believed she could dominate in a multi-event sport and took over her training. She would be taking on the heptathlon, comprised of seven disciplines: 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200-meter dash, long jump, javelin and 800 meters.
Joyner trained eight hours a day on the track and qualified for the 1984 Olympics where she took silver in the inaugural heptathlon. She went on to win three Gold medals in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics and won four world championships. She married her coach, Bob Kersee, in 1986.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee was the first time a talent so strong in several disciplines had really been seen. She did it with class and despite her hours of toiling in training, she made it look easy.
So while we all bigged up Jessica Ennis for her awesome Gold medal winning performance in 2012, let us not forget the woman who paved the way.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee, we salute you.