, in full Jacqueline Joyner-Kersee, née Jacqueline Joyner was born March 3, 1962 in East St. Louis, Illinois, U.S.
She is popularly considered by many to be the greatest female athlete ever. She was the first participant to score more than 7,000 points in the heptathlon.
Joyner began training for the heptathlon in 1981 under the tutelage of assistant track coach Bob Kersee, whom she married in 1986.
At the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, she overcame a pulled hamstring to win the silver medal in the heptathlon, narrowly missing the gold by five points. She graduated from UCLA in 1985, and on July 7, 1986, Joyner-Kersee finally emerged as the dominant heptathlete, setting a world record (7,148 points) at the Goodwill Games in Moscow.
RECORD-SETTING POINTS IN THE HEPTATHLON AT THE 1986 GOODWILL GAMES was 7,148, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALS = 3, OLYMPIC SILVER MEDAL =1, OLYMPIC BRONZE MEDALS =2
Her score bettered the old record by 202 points, making her the first heptathlete to top 7,000 points. Joyner-Kersee set the heptathlon world record (7,291) for the fourth time while winning the gold medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
In 1992 in Barcelona, she became the first athlete to win the heptathlon in consecutive Olympic Games. In her final Olympic appearance at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, she earned a bronze medal in the long jump; a hamstring injury forced her to withdraw from the heptathlon.
Joyner-Kersee’s best heptathlon events were the long jump, 100-metre hurdles, 200-metre run, and high jump. She often competed in single events, particularly the long jump, in which she tied the world record (7.45 metres [24 feet 5.5 inches]) in 1987 and won the gold medal in 1988 and the bronze in 1992.
After the 1996 Olympics, Joyner-Kersee played professional basketball with the Richmond Rage; she left the team midway through her first season to compete in the long jump indoors. In 2000, she sought to compete in her fifth Olympic Games, but she failed to qualify in the U.S. trials. She officially retired the following year.
Joyner-Kersee was involved in various philanthropic organizations. In 1988, she established the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation, which sought to help at-risk children, especially those living in her hometown of East St. Louis, Illinois.
She later cofounded (2007) Athletes for Hope, which encouraged professional athletes to become active in charitable causes. In 2016, she became involved in an initiative backed by Comcast to provide Internet access to low-income families, among other aims. Joyner-Kersee’s memoir, A Kind of Grace: The Autobiography of the World’s Greatest Female Athlete(cowritten with Sonja Steptoe), was published in 1997.
Written by The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica.