NEW YORK TIMES-1988
Florence Griffith Joyner set a women’s world record in the 100 meters on this date at the United States Olympic track and field trials. The following article appeared in The Times on Monday, July 18.
INDIANAPOLIS-As good a runner as she is, Florence Griffith Joyner has been better known through the years for her sense of fashion. Start with the fingernails. At the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, when they were 4 inches long, she painted three of them red, white and blue. She painted a fourth gold, for the color of the medal she hoped to win in the 200 meters. Instead, she finished second and won a silver medal.
In 1986, when the nails reached 61/2 inches, they prevented her from styling her hair, so she trimmed them. The nails are again almost 4 inches long and painted bright red, the color of the United States Olympic uniforms. In the United States Olympic track and field trials here, most of the women in the 100-meter dash wore conventional running shorts. In three of Griffith Joyner’s four races, she wore body suits with the left leg cut off; in the other, she wore a black body suit with both legs. “One-leggers,” she called her cut-down outfits. “I designed them myself.”
For all her style, Florence Griffith Joyner will be better remembered for running the three fastest 100 meters ever in 24 hours: Saturday’s world record of 10.49 seconds and Sunday’s 10.70 and 10.61. For the first time in a long career, she had reached the top. She is 28 years old, slim but strong at 5 feet 8 inches and 130 pounds. She trains with weights four times a week and can squat with 320 pounds. She ran for California State-Northridge and later for U.C.L.A. In 1980, she finished fourth in the 200 meters in the United States Olympic trials, just failing to make the team. “I had four years to make the next team,” Griffith Joyner said, “and possibly to become a medalist. I became determined to do that.”
She succeeded, and she won the silver medal behind Valerie Brisco in the 1984 Olympics. Here, she ran unlike any other woman in history.
At the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Florence Griffith Joyner won gold medals in the 100 and 200 meters (see Sept. 29) and the 4×100- meter relay. She died of a heart seizure at her home in Mission Viejo, Calif., at age 38 in 1998.