Aug. 18, 2000
LOS ANGELES -- Al Joyner, the 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist in the men's triple jump who has 15 years coaching experience, has joined the UCLA track and field staff. Joyner will coach the Bruin women's jumps and will assist head coaches Jeanette Bolden (women) and Art Venegas (men) with administrative duties for both programs.
"Al Joyner brings to our program world-class experience and recognition in the jumps, both as a competitor and coach," said Bolden, who is entering her eighth year as the head coach of the Bruin women's track and field team. "I have known Al since 1983. I have always found him to be an extremely hard worker who is enthusiastic and very knowledgeable about the jumps."
Joyner, whose UCLA ties include his late wife, Florence Griffith Joyner (Flo Jo), his sister, Jackie Joyner-Kersee (JJK), recognized as the world's greatest female athlete and his brother-in-law, Bob Kersee, won the men's triple jump Gold Medal at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles with a leap of 56-7. At the time, he was the first American in 80 years to win the men's triple jump.
Since 1985, Joyner has been coaching women and men jumpers from the youth to the world-class levels. On Oct. 10, 1987, Joyner married Griffith. He assisted Kersee in the coaching of Flo Jo during his wife's world-record setting career. Flo Jo died on Sept. 21, 1998 at the age of 38 of a seizure. Joyner and Flo Jo have a daughter, Mary Ruth, 9.
During his athletic career, Joyner was a versatile track and field performer. A star athlete at East St. Louis, IL Lincoln HS, the same school that his sister JJK attended, Joyner in 1980 was a U. S. Olympic Trials qualifier in the 110m high hurdles. From 1981-83, he was a six-time NCAA indoor and outdoor All-American at Arkansas State.
In 1983, Joyner was a member of the first U. S. World Championship team that competed in Helsinki, Finland, placing eighth in the triple jump. A year later, he would win the Gold Medal.
Joyner was training to compete in the men's triple jump at the recently completed U. S. Trials, but a right knee injury suffered shortly before the start of the Trials kept him out of competition.
Two current athletes that Joyner coaches also had U. S. team aspirations. Grace Upshaw, who attended California, competed in the long jump at the Trials and former USC 400m runner Michael Walton was injured before the Trials and could not compete.
Along with his coaching activities, Joyner also directs the Flo Jo Community Empowerment Foundation and Final Kick Marketing Group. He is a member of the Arkansas State (1993), State of Illinois (1997) and State of Arkansas (1999) Hall of Fames.
" These last 23 months have been the most difficult times of my life, but this opportunity is like a dream come true," Joyner said. "It's such an honor to coach at one of the great universities in America. When Jeanette (Bolden) looked at me and said, "welcome to the Bruin family", that said it all for me. I want to continue to add to the tradition of great jumpers that have come from UCLA."
Monte Rucker, who is entering his seventh season on the UCLA track and field staff, will continue to coach the Bruin men's jumps in a volunteer capacity.