The Ultimate 50
23. Florence Griffith-Joyner
Why revisit a woman who died more than 20 years ago? What more is left to prove about this super athlete who had Super-Hair on and off the track? Because Griffith Joyner's style and speed still fascinate us, after all this time. So we found a video of the day in 1988 when she broke the 100-meter dash world record.
It happened during the U.S. Olympic Trials in Indianapolis, on a day filled with "wind-aided" runs. Flo-Jo's record of 10.46 seconds counted, because the wind calmed enough for it to be legal. But watch out on the right! Tthat wind still can mean trouble, even for a pinned-down head of long hair....
And this, stunningly, was what we found after the race. Freezing the video proved a crosswind blew a bit of hair into Griffith Joyner's eye. So for our record, she's not officially "Super" forever after all - but she understandably remains stellar in many ways to many people.
If someone had been able to outrun "Flo-Jo" and get their hands on her hair, would it necessarily have collapsed in her eyes? Maybe not, based on this photo. We're not sure when it was taken, but it shows Griffith-Joyner sometimes displayed bangs across the forehead.
But, you may have asked, didn't her Super-Hair fall in her eyes when she lined up in the starting blocks for a race? This picture indicates the answer is no. It dropped to either side of the head, but not across the face. (Admittedly we can't tell if she wore a center pin in the back to ensure this.)
And here's a "glamour shot" if Griffith-Joyner we'd never seen before - with straightened hair combed within an eyelash of her left eye. Whether it stayed that precise and perfect throughout the photo shoot, we may never know; we'd love to track down the photographer and ask.
These vid-caps are all part of the best collection of Griffith-Joyner pictures we've found anywhere - assembled by a big fan for a YouTube video. It'll make you admire her hair and dance a bit at the same time.
As far as we know, no new pictures have emerged of Griffith-Joyner's hair in either sensational hold or dramatic peril. But in our searching, we were struck by a session she had with art photographer Steve Landis. If you like the hair here, wait until you see her entire body -- posed as at a starting line.
There appears to be another Flo-Jo photo gallery available at the Asian web site China Cyx, but you need to become a member to access it. (And it would help if you knew some Chinese.)
Our latest web search on Griffith-Joyner uncovered a detail we never knew before -- she worked part-time as a hair braider. That doesn't surprise us at all. In fact, it confirms how much she obviously appreciated quality hair.
With 2004 being an Olympic summer, the Olympic web site has posted a series of pictures from Griffith-Joyner's 1988 performances in Seoul. You can even watch video of her running in a 4 x 100-meter relay. We would also add a fine statement about her from Heroism.org: "Flo Jo will always remain at the peak of her career: strong, beautiful and fast." May other heads of Super-Hair try to emulate that standard -- because we've yet to track down any picture with her great style fallen.
While the hair of "Flo-Jo" now is only a memory, here's a style variation you may not have seen before. Her strong locks were trimmed to shoulder-length for an exercise video she made a few years before her death. (If someone has this video, we'd be interested in knowing how this style stood up during her workout.)
You can still find scattered photos on the web of Griffith-Joyner in her Olympic prime. The best gallery we found (even though it's small) is a historical collection from Sports Illustrated magazine.
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