Before 1988 FloJo had been a pretty good sprinter. Nothing incredible, nothing to indicate that she'd shatter world records and set marks that would still stand nearly a quarter century later. Her fastest pre-1988 100 meter dash had been 10.96 seconds and her quickest 200 meter had been 21.96. Yet at the 1988 U.S. Olympic trials she ran the 100 meters in 10.49 seconds, destroying the previous world record. At the Olympics themselves she ran the second fastest women's 100 ever, clocking in at 10.54 seconds. Then she shattered the world record for the 200 meters during the Olympic quarter finals and then beat that time with yet another world record in the finals, covering the 200 meters in 21.34 seconds; more than 6/10ths of a second faster than her pre-1988 best. Mature sprinters (she was 28 at the time of the Olympics) just don't make quantum leaps in speed like that.
The fact that she was mowing down records wasn't the only thing that made people suspect she'd been drinking from Ben Johnson's water bottle, her physical transformation was just as shocking as her new found speed. Her huge, rippling muscles were in stark contrast to the lithe physique she sported just a couple of years earlier. She attributed her new superhero profile to a new workout routine. Ahem, uh, okay.
To almost no one's surprise FloJo retired from competitive racing immediately after the Olympics and her records were allowed to stand. Tragically she died in her sleep in 1998 at the very young age of 38.
|FloJo in 1986 (left) and 1988 (right).|