x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Florence Griffith-Joyner set the records that stand today

Best Olympic track and field star No 3 The sprint world records Griffith-Joyner set in the 1988 Games still stand.

Perhaps the best measure of the unparalleled dominance that Florence Griffith-Joyner brought to the Seoul Olympics in 1988 is this: the sprint world records she set in the 100m and 200m that season still stand, 23 years later.

Her name conjures several visions: those astonishingly long and colourfully painted fingernails; her enormously muscular physique; and the raw, bloody hunks she tore out of the women's sprint world records that year.

Before 1988, no woman had ran the 200m in a time better than 21.71secs. Griffith-Joyner ran 21.34secs in the final at Seoul. No woman has run better than 21.62secs since.

Before 1988, no woman had run the 100m faster than 10.76. In the US Olympic trials Griffith-Joyner was credited with a 10.49secs, the official world mark despite concerns it might have been wind-aided. She ran a 10.61 at Seoul. No woman has run faster than 10.64secs since.

In both the 100m and 200m, the runner-up was more than three-10ths of a second behind her.

She won a third gold at Seoul in the 4x100m relay, and a silver in the 4x400m.

No account of her 1988 dominance can avoid the subject of performance-enhancing drugs. She successfully passed drug tests in the same Olympics at which Ben Johnson, the men's 100m gold-medallist, failed a test and was stripped of his medal.

She retired after the Olympics, the year before random drug tests were mandated in athletics. She died in 1998, suffocating in her bed at age 38 after a severe epileptic seizure, according to a coroner's report.

poberjuerge@thenational.ae


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