He ran across the infield to the edge of the final turn. The women would pass him twice. The first time Nunn was in front. Al shouted to Jackie to stay close. The second time, with 150 yards to race, Nunn led Jackie by about 20 yards. Al became a man afire. He started running alongside his sister on the infield grass. "Pump your arms, Jackie!" he screamed. "This is it!"
Months later, few outside East St. Louis would remember that on that August night Al Joyner became the first American to win the Olympic triple jump in 80 years. But people would stop him on the street. "You're the guy who cheered for his sister," they would say.
Nunn crossed the finish line in 2:10.57. Jackie followed in an anguished 2:13.03, a third of a second too slow. She had lost by five points, 6,390 for Nunn, 6,385 for Joyner.
After waiting out his competitors' last efforts to catch him, Al went to Jackie by the heptathlon awards stand. A silver medal hung around her neck, and she was sobbing.
"It's O.K.," he said, taking her into his arms. "It's O.K."
"I'm not crying because I lost," she said. "I'm crying because you won. You fooled them all."
All except their mother, Mary, who had said there would be a day like this, a day when Al would shine a little brighter.
And still, it was not Jackie's time. She returned to UCLA, went back to basketball and began accepting the occasional date. She was 22, getting over being shy and happy at all the good wishes her Olympian near-miss had evoked.
All the while she kept building her heptathlon strengths. She set the American record in the long jump with 23'9" in Zurich in 1985 ("That was as happy as I've ever seen her," says Al) and fouled on what would have been a world-record 25 feet in Cologne.
The summer before, just after the Olympics, Frederick, at age 32, took back the American heptathlon record with 6,803 points and, in 1985, was ranked first in the world. Yet even then she knew Joyner would be after her.