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My Superhero

FOR some reason, I was thinking of my childhood sports hero today. She was more like a superhero really, but well, that doesn't matter. 

With a headcover
I was nine during the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and was glued to the TV, watching the games, and the very first time I saw her on the track, I was taken up by the super-human appeal. As a child, it was one thing to see someone run that fast but I was also smitten by her sense of track costumes, hair, nail and make-up. Very flashy, 80s and the world was tuned to her. Much like an American superhero. She touched the finishing line with a victor's smile. I felt all that energy bursting through that little TV that hung in our bedroom. It was over-powering and instantly began my adoration for American athlete Florence Griffith-Joyner or famously known as FloJo. 

If you remember her (although I believe if you had seen her, you'd never forget her), FloJo was the fastest woman of all time. She won three gold medals at the 1988 Summer Olympic Games in Seoul -  the 100m and 200m runs, and the 4×100 meter relay. Her world records for the 100 and 200 meters remain unbroken. The outstanding woman often wore flashy running outfits and long, brightly painted fingernails while competing. She died in her sleep at her home in California in 1998, after a seizure, at age 38.  She was found to have had a cavernous angioma, a congenital brain abnormality that made FloJo subject to seizures.

I was hero-worshipping FloJo during the days when my brother was busy keeping his Mutant Ninja Turtles in order. Thanks to Uncle Nat who was a runner (he still runs) and cyclist who followed sports like a second religion, I read every sports magazine I could find, constantly looking out for FloJo. If there was a centre-spread on her, I studied it. I studied the one-legged leotard she designed herself, the uniquely manicured 4-inch nails, the scarlet lipstick, the body structure, the shapes beneath the skin. I absorbed every word that spoke of her. If I had been a child who liked dolls, I would've asked my parents to buy me a Barbie-sized FloJo. But I loathed dolls. So I began doing little runs, and painting my short nails with magic colour pens! 

One-leg-baring piece
I was hoping to see her again in the following Olympics but she had retired shortly after the 1988 games. Of course, there were rumours about her being on steroid and performance-enhancing drugs. But you know what, the world never runs short of those who are never happy with too-good-to-be-true realities. Imagine if mountaineer Aron Ralston had never recorded his moments stuck in between those rocks at Blue John Canyon and never made it alive, people would have rumours about his ordeal too. Well, FloJo had tested negative then, and also later, in her autopsy.  

Ten years later, her death came as a sick joke to me. I was sitting for my STPM (A Levels) that year, the Malaysian economy was hit hard by the crisis, resulting in an interesting turn of events politically and in itself making history. And then, I had to hear of my superhero's tragic news over the radio. By this time, my brother had a real turtle for a pet, which I ended up keeping as he got busy with his guitar. 

Look Here 
During the last Olympics, I was watching some of the games on a screen at the Twin Towers when I over-heard a conversation between a couple. One was telling the other that FloJo's world records were still left unchallenged. The statement was echoed by the commentator on the TV, who continued to describe the legend as she was. She'll always be remembered, my superhero. 

Fancy Nails


  1. Don't know why but I'm loling so hard since first picture.

  2. Sounds like a great hero to have and yeah the first picture is kind of funny..haha

  3. She does sound like quite the superhero, cool post as always!

  4. What a wonderful idol/role model to have while growing up.
    And, yes, of course I remember FloJo – how could I not? :)

  5. Her death was a shock, she was the picture of health

  6. Her name is familiar, but less so than the champion female gymnasts. Did she dislike getting her hair wet in the rain?

  7. I was born when you were 9. :)

  8. Winning is one thing, but winning with style takes a skill of its own.

  9. never knew about her, i was 1yo during those olimpics

  10. She was fantastic, such a loss. Never did go for the nails though

  11. Oh I'll never forget FloJo. Excellent superhero choice. She was so talented and gorgeous. I, too, was very sad when she died.


  12. I remember watching Mary Lou Retton back in the 84 Olympics. She was like a little female version of Spiderman.

  13. orang3 + pat hatt : you must find the suits funny :) that was her style.

    matthew + beth : she was quite a hero :p

    natural : yea, she was as fit as a racehorse and then she was gone.

    GB : you must be talking about Mary Lou Retton :)
    haha. maybe its just a design inspired by hoodies.

    2 Pesos : there seem to be more people born after me these days :p

    Mike : she had that distinct style about her:p

    Tony : now you do :p

    Nursie : yea, a loss. as a kid, her nails were amazing to me, although now i wouldn't wear it like that :p

    Lola : yea, she was beautiful :p

    Otter : i've seen some videos of her. amazing. i think she trained with someone who trained Nadia Comaneci as well if i'm not wrong.

  14. Mine is greg louganis, the swimmer. And as you know there are a lot of stories about him. But who cares, i love his performance. And he is very good. Nice post.


    Ps. Thanks for the comment and visit on my blog!..


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