Meet the Author

Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Portrait of Jackie Joyner-Kersee

In 1975, Jackie Joyner saw a television movie about Babe Didrikson. Didrikson, one of the greatest athletes of all time, competed in a range of sports, from track and field to baseball, swimming, and golf, from the 1930s to the 1950s. The movie inspired Joyner to try multiple sporting events. At age 13, she had already begun competing in track-and-field events. In high school she played volleyball and led her basketball team to a state championship. As she prepared to go to college, she was offered scholarships in both track and basketball. She accepted the latter and played in the position of forward for four years, earning All-America honors.

When her college coach, Bob Kersee, encouraged Joyner to compete in track, she quit basketball to pursue her quest for Olympic gold. Over four consecutive Olympic Games, from 1984 through 1996, Joyner wowed the world by winning six medals, three of them gold. In one of her best events, the heptathlon, she has logged the top six performances in history, including the world record of 7,291 points. In 1986 Joyner married her coach, and the two of them remained a successful team throughout her professional career. After retiring from Olympic competition, Joyner-Kersee briefly played professional basketball. Now she devotes her time to many business ventures and to the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Youth Center Foundation. One of its major achievements is a new youth center called the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Boys and Girls Club in her hometown of East St. Louis, Illinois. Joyner-Kersee sees the center as a way that she can help other people, especially kids. After all, she says, "I didn't get where I am by myself. That's why I try to help others."


As a competitor, Jackie Joyner-Kersee charmed her millions of admirers not only with her skill but also with her determination in the face of difficult circumstances. Throughout her career she battled allergies and asthma so severe that she was hospitalized after some competitions. And six days after her aging body forced her to withdraw from the heptathlon in the 1996 Olympics, she captured the bronze medal in the long jump. Joyner-Kersee is a champion in more ways than one!


Photography Credit

Joyner-Kersee

Other Books Written by Jackie Joyner-Kersee

  • Running for Dummies
    (co-written by Florence Griffith Joyner and John Hanc)