Monday, September 21, 1998 Published at 17:48 GMT 18:48 UK
Flo-Jo dies at 38
Florence Griffith Joyner celebrates her Olympic victory
Florence Griffith Joyner, triple gold medalist at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, has died at the age of 38. The American sprinter apparently suffered a heart seizure at her home in Mission Viejo, California.
Griffith Joyner, known by her fans as Flo-Jo, captivated the world with her phenomenal speed and flamboyant style but her rapid improvement and her tremendous physique fuelled rumours about performance-enhancing drugs.
Griffith Joyner set women's 100 and 200-metre world records in 1988.
Known for her self-designed running uniforms and six-inch painted fingernails, she also won a 1984 Olympic silver medal in the heptathlon and 1992 bronze medal in the long jump.
At Seoul she won the 100m in a wind-assisted 10.54, then set two world records at the 200m, running the semi-final in 21.56 and the final in 21.34.
Denied taking drugs
She retired immediately after the 1988 Games, amid a swirl of rumours about her taking performance-enhancing substances. She always denied the accusations and never failed a drugs test.
She married Al Joyner in October 1987 and had a daughter Mary, who was nicknamed Mo Jo by the US press.
Jamaican athlete Juliette Cuthbert, who ran against Flo-Jo in 1988, said Griffith Joyner had another seizure on board an aeroplane in 1996.
Death of a role model
Her premature death is bound to raise questions about her lifestyle and resurrect allegations of drug-taking.
But US Olympic committee president Bill Hybl said: "She was a role model for girls and young women in sports and her legacy will be one that included kindness and an interest in children."
Primo Nebiolo, president of the International Amateur Athletics Federation, said: "It's a great shock and makes me extremely sad.
"I knew that Florence Griffith Joyner had had some heart problems in recent months but I didn't think it was anything really serious."
Mr Nebiolo said: "Sadly her life has passed as rapidly as her races."