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“Age is no barrier. It’s a limitation you put on your mind.”
– Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Olympic Heptathlon and Long Jump Champion (1984-2000)
Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1962 – present) is an American track and field athlete hailed as one of the greatest athletes of all time. She won three gold, one silver, and two bronze Olympic medals in the women’s heptathlon and in the women’s long jump. Kersee is best known as one of the most famous athletes to overcome severe asthma.
She 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 holds the record in heptathlon along with the top six all time best results. Having won 6 Olympic medals, she’s the most decorated female athlete in Olympic track and field history despite the disadvantage of having severe asthma. Kersee has consistently maintained to have zero reliance on performance-enhancing drugs throughout her thriving career.
Announced as the “the greatest multi-event track and field athlete of all time,” she uses her influence in philanthropic efforts. She established the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation in 1988 to provide athletic lessons to youth, adults, and families as a means to improve their quality of life. Along with other reputable athletes like Andre Agassi, Muhammad Ali, and Lance Armstrong, she founded the charitable organization “Athletes for Hope” in 2007.
Kersee chooses to stay relevant despite her age. As Barbara de Angelis put it, “No matter what age you are, or what your circumstances might be, you are special, and you still have something unique to offer. Your life, because of who you are, has meaning.”