10.49s – Big hair, long nails and Genuine Pace?

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Florence Griffith Joiner (1959-1998) is considered the fastest woman of all time based on the fact that the world records she set in 1988 for both the 100 m and 200 m still stand and have yet to be seriously challenged.

Flo Jo died unexpectedly of an epileptic seizure on September 21, 1998, at her home in Mission Viejo, California at only 38 years old. Remarkably, more than 30 years later, Joyner still holds the world records in the 100- and 200-meter events, with times of 10.49 seconds and 21.34 seconds, respectively.

After the 1988 Olympics, Joyner retired from competition. Suspicions soon arose regarding how the so-called “world’s fastest woman” achieved her victories. Joyner and her coach, Bob Kersee, came under media speculation when another athlete suggested that Joyner had used performance-enhancing drugs. Some attributed the substantial improvements Joyner made in her performance levels from 1984 to 1988 to illegal substances. Others thought that her incredibly muscular physique had to have been created with the help of performance-enhancing drugs.

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Rumors also spread regarding Bob Kersee’s training techniques, suggesting that he could have been encouraging his runners to use steroids or other drugs in order to win medals. Joyner always insisted that she never used performance enhancers, however, and she never failed a drug test. In fact, according to CNN.com, Joyner took and passed 11 drug tests in 1988 alone.

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