Al Joyner: The First Family of Track and Field


I have to admit, I get a bit star-struck when it comes to my work with the Track and Field Athletes Association – I mean, seriously.  I get to interact with and ask questions of elite runners, jumpers and throwers every single week.

One of the most important things that I have realized is these athletes aren’t that different from you or me.  They have doubts, they get injured, they struggle to achieve their goals, and they love to compete.

But there are differences.  Clearly they have athletic abilities that I do not possess; however the biggest difference that I have noticed between elite and everyday athletes is their single-minded focus on their goals.  They refuse to be deterred.

I was reminded of all of the above this past week when I had the opportunity to chat with a living legend in track and field, Al Joyner.  Al was the 1984 gold medalist in the triple jump, the husband of Olympic legend, the late Florence Griffith-Joyner, and the brother or multi-Olympic medalist, Jackie Joyner-Kersee.  Al Joyner is literally the head of the first family of track and field.

Al Joyner

In our conversation, I asked Al why he wanted to be a professional athlete.  He said:

 “My goal wasn’t to go pro in track and field, but instead, I wanted to be an Olympian.  I wanted to go make history and to leave my mark.  And as a result, I was able to travel around the world.  I never looked at track and field as a way to make money, so everything I got was a bonus.”

“…I wanted to be an Olympian.  I wanted to go make history and to leave my mark.”

Without question, Al Joyner has done both!