For one season she transformed herself from a workaday sprinter named Florence Griffith Joyner into a cultural icon named Flo-Jo. The year was 1988 and—with slinky racing suits straight out of Frederick's of Hollywood and long fingernails—she set world records in the 100 meters (10.49 seconds) and 200 meters (21.34). She won four Olympic medals and became the most famous female track athlete in history. In truth she was a one-hit wonder who became famous for glitz and forever suspected for a sudden greatness that begged explanation, even upon her death after a seizure, at age 38.
Her Swimwear was never high fashion, and she could have used a manicure. Maureen O'Toole (left), the greatest female water polo player ever, wasn't interested in showing that woman athletes could be feminine. In 1978, when she joined the national team, women couldn't compete in the Olympics in water polo, but O'Toole played on. And on. She was six times the world MVP. In 1994 she retired, but when the IOC added women's water polo for Sydney, she came back and, six months shy of her 40th birthday, led the U.S. to a silver medal. Teammates compared her to Michael Jordan, but O'Toole made it clear she was playing for less famous athletes. "I want other girls to have opportunities that I have never had," she said, singling out her nine-year-old daughter, Kelly. "She can be proud to be an athlete, something that was sometimes hard for me."