Jackie Joyner-Kersee Disability: What Is Her Health Problem?

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Does the Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee have a disability? Technically not, but she has had health problems that nearly vanquished her budding athletic career.

Considered one of the ‘Greatest Female Athletes of All-Time,’ Joyner-Kersee was diagnosed with asthma during college.

But with proper medication and sheer dedication, she didn’t let those physical disadvantages take a toll on her career.

As a result, she won six Olympic medals, including three gold from four Olympic events.

Six-Time Olympic Medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Six-time Olympic Medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Source: IMDB)

Born on March 6, 1962, Jacqueline, aka Jackie, is a retired American track and field athlete who dominated heptathlon and long jump events. She has a net worth of $5 million in 2024.

Pursuing her athletic journey from college through the Olympics & World Championship, she retired in the late 1990s. Since then, she’s been working as an advocate and philanthropist.

In 2023, she became the International Sports Hall of Fame inductee.

There’s no denying she’s been an inspiring figure for many female track & field athletes around the globe, which may not limit Sydney McLaughlin, Allyson Felix, Lolo Jones, Sydney McLaughlin, & many more. 

Jackie Joyner-Kersee Disability: What Is Her Health Problem?

The four-time World Championship gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee was diagnosed with asthma in the early 80s when she was a top student-athlete at UCLA.

More than being called a disability, asthma could be called a health problem unless it severely impacts one’s daily life to meet the criteria of disability.

When Joyner found out about her health issues, she kept it hidden from her coach, thinking they would halt her athletic career. She could see her dreams shattering in front of her eyes.

It even took her a while to accept the fact that she was asthmatic and take medications.

Joyner-Kersee Was Diagnosed With Asthma During Her College Yet It Didn't Stop Her From Pursuing Athletic Career
Joyner-Kersee Was Diagnosed With Asthma During College Yet It Didn’t Stop Her From Pursuing Athletics (Source: ESPN)

But after getting a hold of herself, Jackie began following the doctor’s advice while trying to control her asthma.

In 1984, she landed in her first-ever Olympics at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. She won a silver medal in the heptathlon.

Joyner-Kersee became an Olympic gold medalist for the first time in 1988, winning two gold medals, each in the heptathlon and the long jump.

Later, in two consecutive Olympics, she brought three medals:

  • 1992 Summer Olympics (in Barcelona): a gold in the heptathlon and a bronze in the long jump
  • 1996 Summer Olympics (in Atlanta): a bronze in the long jump

Moreover, she won four gold medals in three World Championships (1987, 1991 & 1993), a gold in the 1987 Pan American, and four golds in Good Will Games (1986, 1990, 1994 & 1998).

With this, Jakie became one of the most famous athletes to have overcome severe asthma.

What Does Jackie Joyner Do Now?

Inspired into athletics after watching a film about Babe Didrikson Zaharias, the Illinois native would later join her in the list of greatest female athletes of all time.

After retiring from track & field, Jackie turned to advocacy and philanthropy. She is the founder & CEO of the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation (established in 1988).

It empowers & supports the athletic and academic betterment of youths in East St. Louis.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee With Her Husband Bobby Kersee
Jackie Joyner-Kersee With Her Husband, Bobby Kersee (Source: Facebook)

She actively voices for the children’s education and health issues (including asthma). In 2011, Jacqueline collaborated with Comcast to create the Internet Essentials program.

Joyner resides in Illinois with her husband, Bob Kersee, who was her track coach. They married in 1986. Before that, she tried relationships with regular people, but none worked as her exes never supported her athletic career.

Krishna Pandey
Krishna Pandey

Krishna Pandey

Krishna Pandey is a versatile writer with a passion for exploring the diverse and dynamic world of sports. His articles offer readers a captivating blend of sports analysis, human interest stories, and cultural insights, providing a holistic view of the athletes and events that shape the sports landscape.


Cultural Perspectives Athlete Spotlights


  • Krishna explores the cultural significance of sports, examining how athletics intersect with identity, community, and social change.
  • He shines a spotlight on athletes from diverse backgrounds.


Krishna's passion for sports journalism is fueled by a love of competition and a desire to uncover the stories that lie beneath the surface of the sports world. With a background in writing and a keen interest in sports sociology, he brings a multidisciplinary approach to his writing, exploring the complex intersections of sports, culture, and society.

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