Shaking Pom-Poms or Shooting Hoops?
THE CROWD OF a hundred or so of us waited patiently for the star of the evening to arrive. When Jackie Joyner-Kersee walked into the room, straight, slim, the epitome of womanly grace, not one of us could take our eyes off her. She told her remarkable story with humor, charm, and even a certain shyness.
Joyner-Kersee is one of the greatest female athletes of all time, holder of numerous world titles, including Olympic medals, in track and field events. She has also suffered from chronic asthma, a condition she denied for years until she finally became so ill she had no choice but to take it seriously.
"I had asthma for many years, but I was in total denial. I saw the doctor as the enemy. If something was wrong with me, I'd just think I wasn't in shape. One time in St. Petersburg, Russia, at the Goodwill Games, I knew something was wrong. I had gotten through all the events, and then I had to do the 800. Halfway through the race I could hear myself whistling. By 600 I could hardly breathe. But I was determined to finish the race, even though by the end I could barely jog across the finish line.