Track & Field

JACKIE JOYNER-KERSEE – Perhaps the world’s best female athlete of her era, Jackie Joyner-Kersee claimed two gold medals at the Seoul Olympics in the heptathlon and long jump. It was the first time in 64 years that an athlete had won a multi-event competition and an individual event in the same Olympics. She finished the heptathlon with 7,290 points, 394 more than her nearest competitor, for the greatest margin of victory ever in an Olympic women’s multi-event competition. She also became the first U.S. woman ever to win the Olympic long jump competition, with a jump of 24 ft. 3-1/2 inches.

JIM THORPE – Thorpe is considered by many to be the finest athlete the United States has ever produced. In the 1912 Stockholm Olympics he finished first in the pentathlon, first in the decathlon, fourth in the high jump and seventh in the broad jump. He was the only person in Olympic history to win both the pentathlon and decathlon. In 1913, he was stripped of his medals for having once played semi-professional baseball for $2 a day. Those medals were posthumously returned to him by the International Olympic Committee in January, 1983. In addition to the Olympics, Thorpe was an All-American half-back, played pro football, and played baseball for six years with the New York Giants. He died in 1953.

EVELYN ASHFORD – One of the fastest female sprinters of all time, Evelyn Ashford claimed Olympic gold in both the 1984 and 1988 games. At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, she set an Olympic record in the 100-meter race. Two weeks later, she set a world record time of 10.76 seconds, which stood until 1988. At the Seoul Olympics in 1988, she saved the day for the U.S. Women by running down a Soviet and an East German in the final 100 meters to claim the gold in the 400-meter relay.

RAFER JOHNSON – Winner of the gold medal in the Decathlon at the 1960 Rome Olympics, Rafer Johnson scored a record-breaking 8,392 points. He graduated with honors from UCLA in 1959, where he starred in basketball and track and field. Johnson has won virtually every major U.S. sports award, including the 1958 Sports Illustrated Athlete of the Year and the 1960 Associated Press Athlete of the Year. In 1984, he again received international attention as the torchbearer to light the torch for the Los Angeles Olympics at the LA Coliseum. Johnson is an avid supporter of the California Special Olympics.