Happy 50th Birthday Jackie Joyner-Kersee, One of the Midwest’s Greatest Athletes Ever

Happy Birthday to East St. Louis, Illinois native Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who turns 50 today.

Joyner-Kersee, whom ESPN named the 23rd greatest athlete of the twentieth century, won six Olympic medals, including two golds in the long jump and two golds and a silver in the heptathlon. (The heptathlon combines the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200, long jump, javelin, and 800.)

In 1986 Joyner-Kersee, coached by husband Bob Kersee, became the first person to break 7000 in the heptathlon. Her score of 7291 at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul still stands as the world record.

Here is Joyner-Kersee in 2009 with a Lightsaber-wielding President Obama. (She’s behind the president on the right).

I'm sure there's a story behind this picture. (From Wikipedia.)

And here is Joyner-Kersee’s record-setting performance in the 1988 heptathlon.


Joyner-Kersee is one of the founders of Athletes for Hope, an organization whose mission is to “educate, encourage and assist athletes in their efforts to contribute to community and charitable causes, to increase public awareness of those efforts, and to inspire others to do the same.”

About Josh Tinley

Josh Tinley writes the Away From The Action column at Midwest Sports Fans, covering all aspects of sport aside from what actually happens on the field, court, or track. Josh grew up in Indianapolis and graduated from the University of Evansville and Vanderbilt Divinity School. He is the author of Kneeling in the End Zone: Spiritual Lessons From the World of Sports and the managing editor of LinC, a weekly curriculum for teens that explores the intersection of faith and culture. Josh lives outside Nashville with his wife, Ashlee, and children, Meyer (7), Resha Kate (5), and Malachi (3). He will not allow himself to die before the Evansville Purple Aces make another trip to the NCAA Tournament. Follow him on Twitter @joshtinley or send him an e-mail.


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