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Dream of Olympic Return for Flo Jo and Husband Dashed by Health Problems

June 3, 1996

MISSION VIEJO, Calif. (AP) _ Injuries will prevent a disappointed Florence Griffith Joyner and her husband, Al, from realizing their dream of an Olympic track and field comeback next month.

Griffith Joyner, who sprinted to Olympic glory and world records in the 100- and 200-meter dashes in the Seoul Games eight years ago, has tendinitis in her right leg. Al Joyner’s hope of competing in the triple jump has been dashed by an injured quadriceps muscle in his right leg.

``It’s heartbreaking, it’s heartbreaking for Florence because she was really busting her tail,″ he said Monday. ``I told her, `Honey, if you’re not 100 percent, don’t do it.′

``Mine just came up unexpectedly. On my last jump in a meet at Occidental (two weeks ago), I pulled a quad muscle in my right leg, my takeoff leg.

``It’s depressing, but at the same time, it’s comes with the wins and comes with the losses. It just won’t be the same, not competing in the Olympic Trials.″

The Trials start June 14 in Atlanta.

Both Joyners are 36 and were hoping to compete in one final Olympic Games, although Joyner said, ``I’m not giving up. I’m too stubborn. I’m going to probably compete in Europe.″

Joyner served as his wife’s coach.

In an Associated Press interview last week, Griffith Joyner, also known as Flo Jo, said age wouldn’t stop her from making a comeback in the 400-meter dash. The way it worked out, it was the tendinitis that caught up with her.

``I don’t have a doubt I could have run a qualifying time if I was healthy and ready,″ she said.

Griffith Joyner began training for the Olympics in October, but developed tendinitis in her right leg in late March, prompting her to halt workouts for most of April. In May, her workouts were cut to one a week.

``It’s been hard for me. All the training I’ve done. I’ve never had problems with my Achilles,″ she said with a sigh. ``My husband tells me I’m getting older, I tell him to shut up.″

Such injuries to the Achilles tendon are usually the result of over-training, said Dr. Tony Daly, an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon who was the medical director of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

``I think it’s a combination of a lot of things,″ Griffith Joyner said. ``Me not resting like I should have in between training, traveling, pushing my body to the limit too soon.″

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