Born on March 3, 1962, in East St. Louis, Illinois, Jackie Joyner-Kersee was the first American to win gold for the long jump and the first woman to earn more than 7,000 points in the seven-event heptathlon. She’s ultimately won three golds, a silver and two bronze, making her the most decorated female athlete in Olympic track and field history. She’s gone on to advocate for children.
Regarded as one of the greatest female athletes in history, Joyner-Kersee won a silver medal in the heptathlon at the 1984 Summer Olympics, as well as gold and bronze medals in the long jump in 1988 and 1992, respectively. She is currently the heptathlon world record-holder, scoring 7,291 points—she’s set a record in the heptathlon four times—at the Summer Olympics in 1988, and taking home a gold medal. Joyner-Kersee is also a former long jump word record holder; she tied world long-jump record in 1987, with a 7.45-meter jump (her record was broken in 1988 by Galina Chistyakova, who jumped 7.52 meters). Joyner-Kersee is currently the American record-holder in the long jump.
Joyner-Kersee’s last Olympic run came in 1996, when she took home a bronze medal in the long jump at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. She did not compete in the heptathlon that year due to a pulled hamstring.