Going out golden
Jackie Joyner-Kersee wins final heptathlon in courageous form
Posted: Sunday August 16, 1998 02:51 PM
NEW YORK (CNN/SI) -- The end of a glorious career ended with a courageous performance Wednesday night at the Goodwill Games.
An exhausted, exhilarated, and tearful Jackie Joyner-Kersee, considered by many the greatest female athlete ever, won her final heptathlon on a storybook night.
Crying before her final event and afterward, Joyner-Kersee ran a gutsy 800 meters to win the two-day, seven-event competition with 6,502 points, the highest score in the world this year.
Not only was Joyner-Kersee in tears, so was her husband and coach, Bob Kersee. When Kersee regained his composure, he came down from the stands onto the field, sneaked up behind Jackie and poured water over her, then warmly embraced his wife.
"I can't believe I won," Joyner-Kersee said.
"I can't believe it, either," said her husband.
The heptathlon title came down to the final event. Joyner-Kersee was leading DeDee Nathan by 46 points, but the 800 is one of Joyner-Kersee's least favorite events.
With the heptathlon points system, Nathan had to beat Joyner-Kersee by about 31/2 seconds to wrest the gold medal from Joyner-Kersee. But Nathan won by less than two seconds, and the victory was Joyner-Kersee's by 23 points.
Joining the happy couple on the field was Alfred Joyner, Jackie's father.
"I can't believe it's over," he said, "but I'm glad it's over. She has the heart of a champion."
Joyner-Kersee showed it Wednesday night.
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