Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Catching up with Jackie Joyner-Kersee

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Jackie Joyner-Kersee is a six-time Olympic medalist, a four-time world champion and not only one of the greatest track and field athletes of all time, but also on the short list of greatest Olympians.

Joyner-Kersee turned 52 one month ago, still lives near her original home of East St. Louis, Ill., and is staying involved in track and field while watching another American try to take down her long jump records.

OlympicTalk recently caught up with Joyner-Kersee to look back on her career and to discuss current happenings:

OlympicTalk: What was your favorite Olympic event?

Joyner-Kersee: Oh wow, winning of course [which she did three times, the 1988 and 1992 heptathlon and 1988 long jump], but I would say ’96, the bronze medal [in the long jump] because I had to pull out of the heptathlon [with a hamstring injury]. That was really a dream come true in a sense. Everything came full circle [in my final Olympic event].

OlympicTalk: Who was your favorite competitor?

Joyner-Kersee: [German long jumper] Heike Drechsler was one that I always had to be ready to go up against. And we had a friendship. She was one of the most consistent jumpers out there. I always knew that she would be ready. [Drechsler and Joyner-Kersee swapped long jump Olympic and world titles for the better part of a decade]

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OlympicTalk: Where do you keep your medals?

Joyner-Kersee: My aunt keeps them, in East St. Louis.

OlympicTalk: Do you ever see them?

Joyner-Kersee: Oh yes, a lot of times. If I want to take them to the schools [where Joyner-Kersee gives motivational speeches], she can give them to me.

OlympicTalk: Olympic long jump champion Brittney Reese has said her goal is to break your American record of 7.49m. Her best is 7.25m. Do you think she can do it?

Joyner-Kersee: I definitely think that it’s possible because she is one of our most consistent jumpers. I like her as a person, but then also her tenacity and her will to pull it out in the end. I like that about her. I think the biggest thing for her is staying healthy.

OlympicTalk: What are you up to now?

Joyner-Kersee: I’m doing a lot of events for USA Track and Field. The Run, Jump and Throw here in St. Louis — USA Track and Field has partnered with Hershey trying to introduce more kids to being active and having fun.

I’m continuing my work in the [St. Louis] community. That keeps you busy. I do a lot of motivational talks, at a lot of schools, a lot of things on fitness and wellness.

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Federica Brignone passes Mikaela Shiffrin for World Cup overall lead

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Italian Federica Brignone passed an absent Mikaela Shiffrin for the World Cup overall standings lead by winning a combined in Switzerland on Sunday.

Brignone prevailed by .92 of a second adding times from super-G and slalom runs in Crans-Montana. Full results are here.

Brignone moved 73 points ahead of Shiffrin in the overall through 29 of 40 scheduled races. A race winner receives 100 points on a descending scale through the 30th-place finisher. The season runs through March 22.

Shiffrin, the three-time reigning World Cup overall champion, has not competed since the unexpected death of her father on Feb. 2. She has not announced if or when she will return this season.

Brignone, 29, is having a career season with five wins and 10 podiums across four disciplines.

Brignone’s best previous World Cup overall standings finish was fifth. She earned giant slalom medals at the 2018 Olympics (bronze) and 2011 World Championships (silver).

She could become Italy’s first female World Cup overall champion. The last Italian male winner was Alberto Tomba in 1995.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves to La Thuile, Italy, for a super-G and a combined next Saturday and Sunday.

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Jade Carey on brink of becoming first gymnast to qualify for U.S. Olympic team

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The U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials aren’t until late June, but Jade Carey is in position to qualify for the Tokyo Games in March.

Carey, seeking an individual Olympic gymnastics spot outside of the team competition, earned the maximum points in a World Cup series that is one path to Olympic qualification.

Carey has three wins each on floor exercise and vault with two World Cups left in March. Carey will mathematically clinch an Olympic spot if no other gymnasts win three times on one of the apparatuses to force a tiebreaker.

So far, no other gymnast has two wins on floor. One gymnast has two wins on vault. A gymnast’s top three finishes across the eight-stop series count in Olympic qualifying. If Carey finishes atop the floor or vault standings, she goes to the Olympics.

Carey picked up those third wins on floor and vault at the sixth World Cup in Melbourne, Australia, this weekend.

The one downside to qualifying this route: Carey would not be able to compete in the team competition at the Olympics. Those four spots will be determined at and after June’s trials in St. Louis, with Simone Biles likely grabbing one of them.

“I knew I would be giving up being on the team,” Carey said in October of going the World Cup route, “but I think, for me, it made sense to just go for it.”

Carey is a world medalist on vault and floor, but she doesn’t have the all-around credentials of Biles and some other U.S. gymnasts.

Olympic team event roster sizes were cut from five to four for Tokyo, putting a greater onus on all-around prowess given a team must put three gymnasts on each apparatus in the Olympic final.

The U.S. is the deepest country in women’s gymnastics, so the only truly safe pick to make the four-woman Olympic team event roster is Biles.

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