In 1985, upon leaving UCLA after her final year of collegiate competition, Jackie Joyner-Kersee dominated women's track and field for the next 13 years.
At the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, while still at UCLA, she won her first Olympic medal, a silver in the heptathlon, just missing the gold by five points. At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, Joyner-Kersee won gold medals in the heptathlon, where she established a new world record, and the long jump. She still holds the world record in the heptathlon (7291 points) and the American records in the heptathlon and long jump (24'-7" twice). She won a second straight gold medal in the heptathlon and a bronze medal in the long jump at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. In 1996 in Atlanta, Joyner-Kersee could not finish the heptathlon because of a painful right hamstring injury, but came back to win a bronze medal in the long jump.
On three different occasions (1986, 1987 & 1994) she was voted Track & Field News World Athlete of the Year and on five occasions the top American (1994, '92, '91, '87, '86). In Olympic competition, Joyner-Kersee won six medals, including three gold, moving her to the head of the U.S. list, over Bruin alums Florence Griffith-Joyner and Evelyn Ashford, each with five, and Marion Jones, who won five medals, including three gold, at the 2000 Games.
Considered to be the world's greatest female athlete, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, retired from heptathlon competition in 1998, winning the event at the Goodwill Games. She did return to long jump competition at the 2000 U.S. Trials in an effort to make her fifth consecutive U.S. women's Olympic team, but placed sixth (21-10) in the final.
In addition to her track achievement Joyner-Kersee was also a four-year starter on the UCLA women's basketball team, playing from 1980-83 and 1984-85. She I still listed among the Bruins' best in career scoring, rebounding and assists. Joyner-Kersee continued her basketball career in 1996, playing for Richmond in the ABL.
Known worldwide for her interest in helping others, Joyner-Kersee raised more than $12 million to build the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Youth Center Foundation in her hometown of E. St. Louis, IL. She also keeps busy as the Chairperson of the St. Louis Sports Commission, and the Co-Founder of Jackie Joyner-Kersee Racing (NASCAR).
In 1997, Joyner-Kersee was the inaugural recipient of the USA Humanitarian Athlete of the year and, in 1986-87, she received the Jesse Owens Award.