It is the Olympics again after a four years wait. Records will be broken and new superstars will be born from a single moment of brilliance. However, there are two women sprint records from the late eighties which may prove to be too big a challenge for our sprinters today.
These records are held by the one and only Florence Griffith-Joyner.
Popularly known as Flo-Jo, Florence Griffith-Joyner was the most flamboyant athlete of all time. There hasn’t been anyone as colourful before her and there hasn’t been anyone in her league ever since in the last 20 years. She has pioneered sporting fashion sense in the eighties with her psychedelic outfits and topped her flamboyance with her Nail Art.
In the last five years, Nail Art where catchy designs and colours finally became popular but Flo-Jo did it twenty years ago when the norm then was only mono tone nail varnish. Sports and vanity did not mixed. Most athletes wouldn’t even use neutral coloured varnish but prefer to opt for the natural look. But not Flo-Jo. She not only did her nails to match her attire. And she did it all in style.
The important thing was that Flo-Jo proved to the world that she wasn’t just some attention seeker without the capability to match her flamboyance. Flo-Jo blazed the running lanes and she left all her competition behind.
In 1987, Flo-Jo broke the World Record for the 100 meters clocking at 10.49 seconds during the US Olympics trials. Many felt that the run was wind assisted but the official wind meter showed no wind and her record was recognised.
Then in the 1988 Olympics, Flo-Jo won the 100 meters at 10.54 seconds proving to her critics that she was indeed the fastest woman in the world.
In the same Olympics, Flo-Jo went one up by breaking the 200 meters World Record by running a 21.34 second sprint.
Today, 20 years later Flo-Jo’s records for both the 100 meters and 200 meters stayed intact.
Will these records be broken during the Beijing Olympics? They all tried during the last four Olympics but failed. It is unlikely to be any different in Beijing. We will know by 17th August 2008.
Her decision quit at the pinnacle of her career after the 1988 Olympics fueled her critics’ suspicions that she was avoiding the mandatory random drugs testing which was implemented in 1989.
Unfortunately, Flo-Jo died prematurely in her sleep on 21 September 1998 where the official cause of death was suffocation as a result of a severe epileptic seizure. Her untimely death cast further suspicions of drug abuse or even the effects of steroids or some performance enhancing drugs.
Despite the controversy surrounding her, she will remain as the only women sprinter who has held the official World Records for both the 100 meters and 200 meters sprint for 20 years. Whether or not, her World records will be broken this Olympics, Flo-Jo will always the one and only Flo-Jo. She was and will continue to be the most flamboyant superstar race queen ever.