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).
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.”