Florence Griffith Joyner was an American track and field athlete and the fastest woman ever recorded. 

BY KEISHA BELL | Visionary Brief

Rumors are oftentimes intentionally created to damage an exceptional truth. Embellishing what she said, that he said, that she said may not seem like a big deal on middle school playgrounds, but what happens when it is done to someone who simply wants to run her race at her fullest potential without speculatory drama hovering in her lane?

Meet Florence Delorez Griffith Joyner, also known as “Flo-Jo.” Griffith Joyner was a showstopper — not only because she was blazing fast but because of her showy, fashionable style.

Born December 21, 1959, and unexpectedly dying on September 21, 1998, as the result of suffocation during a severe epileptic seizure, Griffith Joyner set world records in 1988 for both the 100-meter and the 200-meter races. These records have not been broken. She is considered “the fastest woman of all time.”

It is easy to forget, but Griffith Joyner was not always the fastest runner in her races. There were times when she did not finish in the top three, but her potential was undeniable. The journey of becoming known as “the world’s fast woman” was not without frustrations and disappointments.

After winning the silver medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics, she took a break. During this time, she worked in a bank and as a cosmetologist in her spare time. She also married. By 1987, however, she returned to the track.

When she ran the quarterfinals of the U. S. Olympic Trials, she surprised everyone by setting a new world record in the 100 meters. During the trials, she also set an American record in the 200-meter race.

By the time of the 1988 Summer Olympics, Griffith Joyner was known to the world as “Flo-Jo.” There, she set the 200-meter world record. In the end, Griffith Joyner left the Olympics, having won three gold medals and one silver medal.

Griffith Joyner’s times were unbelievable to some who questioned the possibility of such significant improvements for the timeframe. To them, it did not seem “likely,” so her critics made allegations that she used performance-enhancing drugs.

Has someone ever made up a falsehood about you to negate your “exception” to the general rule?

Griffith Joyner had always said that her noteworthy results were due to the new health and training programs implemented by her coaching change. Those changes resulted in a visible change in her physique. The new training program included lower body strength training. Although she was regularly and rigorously drug tested because of the allegations, she never failed a drug test.

Keisha Bell

Keisha Bell

Some may always believe the rumors because of their limited vision of possibility. Others, however, know that even that which seems fanciful is possible to all who believe. That, after all, is what dreams are made of.

Keisha Bell is an attorney, author and public servant.

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