June, 20, 2012
Tony Duffy/Getty ImagesJackie Joyner-Kersee showed the country a new kind of greatness: the all-around kind.ESPN is marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX by unveiling the top 40 female athletes of the past 40 years.
As a kid, Jackie Joyner-Kersee was fast. And she could jump. In high school at Lincoln (East St. Louis, Ill.), she was a state champion in both basketball and track.
And from there, the No. 3 woman in ESPN's countdown became a legend.
By the time she retired, Joyner-Kersee was a three-time Olympic gold medalist, having won the heptathlon and long jump in 1988 and the heptathlon again in 1992. She also took silver in the inaugural heptathlon in 1984 and bronze in the long jump in 1992 and 1996. She repeatedly set world records in the heptathlon. In fact, Joyner-Kersee holds the top six scores in heptathlon history.
"She didn't have any competition except herself," says her brother, Al Joyner, who won Olympic gold in the triple jump at the L.A. Games in 1984. "She kept setting records, making it look easy."
Read the full story from espnW here.
Earlier in this series:
No. 40: Diver Fu Mingxia
No. 39: Jockey Julie Krone
No. 38: Gymnast Mary Lou Retton
No. 37: Hockey player Cammi Granato
No. 36: Soccer player Kristine Lilly
No. 35: Basketball player Diana Taurasi
No 34: Volleyball player Flo Hyman
No. 33: Soccer player Abby Wambach
No. 32: Swimmer Mary T. Meagher
No. 31: Marathoner Joan Benoit
No. 30: Sprinter Gail Devers
No. 29: Basketball player Nancy Lieberman
No. 28: Marathoner Grete Waitz
No. 27: Soccer player Michelle Akers
No. 26: Basketball player Chamique Holdsclaw
No. 25: Swimmer Dara Torres
No. 24: Golfer Nancy Lopez
No. 23: Swimmer Tracy Caulkins
No. 22: Soccer player Marta Vieira da Silva
No. 21: Tennis player Venus Williams
No. 20: Figure skater Michelle Kwan
No. 19: Skier Lindsey Vonn
No. 18: Softball player Lisa Fernandez
No. 17: Basketball player Ann Meyers Drysdale
No. 16: Basketball player Sheryl Swoopes
No. 15: Swimmer Janet Evans
No. 14: Figure skater Katarina Witt
No. 13: Basketball player Cheryl Miller
No. 12: Sprinter Florence Griffith-Joyner
No. 11: Tennis player Billie Jean King
No. 10: Tennis player Serena Williams
No. 9: Tennis player Steffi Graf
No. 8: Gymnast Nadia Comaneci
No. 7: Tennis player Chris Evert
No. 6: Speedskater Bonnie Blair
No. 5: Basketball player Lisa Leslie
No. 4: Golfer Annika Sorenstam