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On This Date in Sports August 2, 1992: First Lady of the Heptathlon

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

American Jackie Joyner-Kersee wins the Olympic Hepthathalon at the games in Barcelona. It is the second consecutive Gold Medal for Joyner-Kersee in the Olympics, having set a World Record in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. She had narrowly missed winning the event's debut in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Jackie Joyner-Kersee would compete in Atlanta in 1996, but a hamstring injury forced her to withdraw after the first discipline. 

Named after First Lady Jackie Kennedy, Jacqueline Joyner was born on March 3, 1962, in East St. Louis, Illinois. Joyner was a gifted athlete and the star of her track team, despite growing up in abject poverty. She qualified to compete in the Long Jump at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. However, she stayed home as the United States boycotted the games due to the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan.

Getting a scholarship to UCLA, Jackie Joyner became one of the top track stars in the NCAA. She qualified to participate in the first Olympic Heptathlon at the Los Angeles Olympics. Joyner was a favorite but fell five points short of the Gold Medal, as Glynis Nunn of Australia won the competition, with Savine Everts of East Germany taking the Bronze Medal.

Over the next four years, Jackie Joyner became the best in the World, marrying her coach Bob Kersee; she set her sights on the Seoul Olympics. She would not be denied this time, setting a World Record with 7,291 points as Savine Everts and Anke Behmer of East Germany took Silver and Bronze. Jackie Joyner-Kersee added a Gold Medal in the Long Jump to complete her haul from Seoul. 

With the World Record in her pocket, Jackie Joyner-Kersee looked to continue her reign at the 1992 games in Barcelona. With stellar performances in the 200M, the hurdles, and the Long Jump, Joyner-Kersee won the Gold Medal again, besting Irina Belova from the Unified Russian Team. Sabine Braun of the newly reunified Germany took the Bronze Medal. Jackie Joyner-Kersee would also claim a Bronze Medal in the. Long Jump.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee attempted to win a third Gold Medal at the Atlanta Games in 1996, but a sore hamstring forced her to withdraw after the first event. She would take the Bronze Medal in the Long Jump and retire from active competition.  Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium duplicated Jackie Joyner-Kersee's feat, winning the Heptathlon at Rio in 2016 and Tokyo in 2021.