Substance Over Style: Flo-Jo Becomes Fastest Woman in the World

Quick, who was the fastest woman to ever run the 100 meters?  Many would juggle a few names and try to remember in which Olympics was the world record actually broken.  But if you were asked who is the most stylish athlete the sport has ever seen, there is only one answer, Florence Griffith Joyner aka Flo-Jo. From her four-inch fingernails to the full body suits to the "one-leggers" with the left leg cut off, Griffith Joyner was a sight to see. However on this day, substance exceeded style at the U.S. Olympic trials on the campus of Indiana University.

Griffith Joyner was considered an excellent 200m runner, but not a great one – she failed to make the US team as a 20-year old in 1980, and her silver in 1984 was cheapened by a boycott by countries thought to have superior sprinters at the time. Many believed she might win another medal in 1988 at the Seoul Olympics, but she was not considered a contender in the shorter sprint.  After all, she had never previously competed in a top-level 100m race.

Her personal best prior to the trials was 10.96 – a very good time but well outside world record pace.  On July 16, 1988 in round one, Griffith Joyner posted a stunning time of 10.60 (wind-aided). But not to stop there, she blazed a time of 10.49 in the quarters shattering the world record  of 10.76 set by Evelyn Ashford four years earlier.  

Many believe this to be a conspiracy, and think the wind-speed meter malfunctioned giving Flo-Jo a wind-aided push to run a time that still stands today as the fastest of all time.  She would however go on to have one of the greatest Olympics in history, capturing gold in the 100 and 200 meters as well as the 4×100 meter relay in Seoul.  


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