In 1988, Flo Jo became the world's fastest woman.

Flo Jo was known for her beauty as well as her athletic talent.

Florence Griffith Joyner was accomplished and flashy, characteristics of a true sports hero of the 1980s. While fans remember her gold medals and world records she earned as a runner, they also can not forget her 6-inch-long, elaborately painted fingernails or her signature running outfits that teased audiences all over the globe with the view of a single bare leg.

But the world's fastest woman had a variety of professions that distinguished her from the typical athlete. She was a children's book writer, a hair braider, a model, an actress, a fashion designer, and briefly, a bank secretary.

No matter what role she played, the woman known as Flo Jo was always swift on her feet. According to her husband, the Olympic triple-jump gold medalist Al Joyner, her speed revealed itself at the age of five, when her father dared her to catch a jackrabbit, a feat she performed easily. By the time she was seven, Flo Jo was running track. At the age of 14, she won the Jesse Owens National Youth Games. Before graduating in 1978, she had broken Los Angeles Jordan High School's records in sprints and long jump.

During Flo Jo's tenure at UCLA, her meteoric speed earned her the 1982 NCAA title in the 200-meter dash. Only two years afterward, she realized her dream of becoming an Olympic medalist with her second-place finish in the 200-meter run.

It seems like she ran straight out of her childhood in a Los Angeles ghetto and into the international spotlight. But she was more human than that. She stumbled along the way, moving into the bank secretary position and gaining up to 60 pounds, according to Jackie Joyner Kersee, Flo Jo's sister-in-law and Olympic gold medalist in heptathlon and long jump. It was Kersee's badgering that prompted Flo Jo to get back to the gym.

At the 1988 United States Olympic Trials, Flo Jo scored a comeback that was made all the more heroic by the fact that she'd strayed from the sport. The 200-meter dash medalist set a new world record for the 100-meter dash, finishing the race in 10.49 seconds and shaving an astonishing 2.7 seconds off Evelyn Ashford's best time of 10.76. It is a record that still holds today.

At the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Flo Jo topped off her track career with three gold medals for the 100, 200, and 400-meter races, as well as a silver medal for the 1600-meter relay. Her time for the 200-meter run at the Seoul games is a world record that has yet to be broken.

Her 1998 death from an epileptic seizure at the age of 38 only added to Flo Jo's mythical status. She was a legend who died young - before time could wear away her athletic skills and other sports heroes could shatter her world records. In the minds of the public, Flo Jo will always remain at the peak of her career: strong, beautiful and fast.