Florence Griffith-Joyner, also known as Flo-Jo, was an American athlete, but not just any athlete. To date she is still the holder of the World Records in the 100 m and 200 m race. Born on December 21, 1959 as Delorez Florence Griffith, she was already fast at an early age. Flo Jo finished fourth in the 200 m at the inaugural World Championships in 1983. The following year, she gained much more attention, though mostly because of her extremely long and colorful fingernails rather than her silver medal in the Los Angeles Olympics 200 m. After these Olympics, Griffith spent less time running and in 1984 she became the wife of Olympic triple jump champion Al Joyner and the sister-in-law of Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
Returning at the 1987 World Championships, she finished second in the 200 m again. She stunned the world when—known as a 200 m runner—she ran a new 100 m World Record of 10.49 in the quarter-finals of the US Olympic Trials. Every event on that day measured excessive wind speeds and this led many to later suggest that the wind meter in the stadium malfunctioned during the race, but the record is still recognized. Al Joyner, her coach stated that he believed the 10.49 run to be wind aided as well. Flo-Jo never ran faster than 10.61 without excessive wind assistance that season.
Known by the world as "Flo-Jo", Griffith-Joyner was the big favorite for the titles in the sprint events at the 1988 Summer Olympics. In the 100 m, she beat her nearest rival Evelyn Ashford by 3 tenths of a second. In the 200 m, she set a new world record winning by .4 seconds. Griffith-Joyner was also a runner in both the 4 x 100 m and 4 x 400 m relay teams. She won a gold medal in the former event, and a silver in the latter, her first international 4 x 400 m relay. She was the 1988 recipient of the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States.
During her 1988 breakthrough year, Griffith-Joyner was dogged by rumors of drug use. Some of her track competitors insisted that her times could only be the result of using steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs, mainly because her performance improved dramatically over a short period of time and when she was rather old for a sprinter. To add to that controversy Flo-Jo retired from competitive track and field right after her Olympic victories. No evidence of performance enhancing drug use by Florence Griffith Joyner has ever been found.
On September 21, 1998 Florence Griffith Joyner died in her sleep at her home in California. The sheriff-coroner's office announced the cause of death as a brain abnormality that made Joyner subject to seizures. It is in fact, a congenital defect, having developed at birth. In 1990 she had, according to a family attorney, suffered a grand mal seizure and had been treated for seizures in 1990, 1993 and 1994.The cause of death in effect said that she had suffocated in her pillow during a severe epileptic seizure. Florence Griffith Joyner is still today the holder of two of the world’s most prestigious records and will forever be remembered for great long nails and running like the wind.