Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Class of 1985

No matter the obstacle, she found a way forward.

One of the most storied female athletes in UCLA’s and competitive sport’s history, Jackie Joyner-Kersee grew up in hardscrabble conditions in East St. Louis searching for a female role model. She found two in UCLA athletes Evelyn Ashford and Ann Meyers. Seeing UCLA award Meyers the first female athletic scholarship in NCAA history gave Kersee the belief that she could go somewhere too. And come to UCLA she did, starring in both track & field and women’s basketball. Then competing in four Olympic games, one while she was attending UCLA, and taking home three gold, one silver and two bronze medals. She still ranks among the all-time greatest woman athletes in the heptathlon and the long jump, and was named “The Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century” by Sports Illustrated. Since retiring from competition, Kersee has focused on philanthropic efforts as well as serving on the board for USA Track & Field-ensuring the sport continues to make great leaps forward.

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Jackie Joyner-Kersee

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