Girl Power: Jackie Joyner-Kersee

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We’re starting a new series to inspire you with the stories of amazing women who’ve overcome mental and physical barriers to reach their goals. At different ages, these women achieved what most people (including men) could only dream, and they’re a testament that you can reach your goals if you push hard enough.

"Jackie Joyner-Kersee 1989 Paraguay stamp" by Unknown - [1] [2]. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jackie_Joyner-Kersee_1989_Paraguay_stamp.jpg#/media/File:Jackie_Joyner-Kersee_1989_Paraguay_stamp.jpg

Jackie Joyner-Kersee is a six-time Olympic medalist (three gold, one silver, two bronze) in the 1980s. She is still considered one of the best athletes in the women’s heptathlon and long jump. 

In her early years, Jackie struggled with severe asthma, yet that didn’t stop her from training and racing. She ran for her team at East St. Louis Lincoln Senior High School. Later she went to UCLA and took part in both track & field and in women’s basketball teams from 1980-1985.

She pushed through and qualified for the finals in the long jump at the 1980 Olympic Trials, finishing in 8th place. During her college years, she “red-shirted” (meaning she took an athletic leave of absence from school) in 1983 to train for the heptathlon at the 1984 Summer Olympics, where she won her first medal: silver.

Four years later, Jackie was back at the Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea where she’d win her first and second gold medals, in the heptathlon and long jump, and she set a longstanding record in the long jump (7.40 m).

In 1992, Jackie won her second gold medal in the heptathlon, as well as a bronze medal in the long jump at the Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Then in 1996, Jackie hurt her hamstring, which caused her to withdraw from the heptathlon and grab sixth place in the long jump finals. Despite the pain, she was still able to nab the bronze medal in the long jump.

Jackie’s an incredible woman, who overcame hurdles––on the pavement and in her life. We need more Jackies in our world!