17 JAN 2000 General News

School named after sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner

Los AngelesThe elementary school Florence Griffith Joyner attended in poverty-ridden South-Central Los Angeles has been renamed in honour of the US sprint star who died in 1998.

Al Joyner, the 1984 Olympic triple jump champion, said his late wife spoke often of 102nd Street Elementary School, which was renamed Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School on Friday.

"Just looking out here, and to know that her dreams started here, and it carried her all over the world," Joyner said. "She never forgot where she came from."

Griffith Joyner, instantly recognisable on the track thanks to her one-legged racing outfits, flowing hair and fabulously painted fingernails, died at her home in Mission Viejo, near San Diego, in September 1998 at the age of 38.

"Flo-Jo" had become an Olympic legend in Seoul in 1988 winning gold medals in the 100 and 200m as well as being a member of the successful US relay team.

She set a new 200m world record in those Games, having previously set the standard for the 100m in the US Olympic trials. These marks remain in the record books today after more than a decade.

"Flo-Jo's success is especially meaningful and inspirational to our students because she grew up right in this school neighbourhood," said Frances Haywood, the school's principal.