Over the past few decades, there have been some great track and field women athletes, and this is a list of the 10 best female runners ever! Many of them set records in the 1970s and 1980s, and their records have never been broken. All of them deserve to be included in the list of the ten best female runners ever.
- Florence Griffith Joyner (1959-1998) was the best female runner ever. She won a total of two silver and three gold medals in 1984 and 1988 and set records. Nicknamed Flo Jo, she liked dressing feminine with long nails. She died unexpectedly at 38 of heart attack.
- Marion Jones (1975) was once called the world’s fastest female runner ever and was a crowd pleaser. In 2007, she was ordered to give back her five Olympic gold medals after admitting to the use of performance-enhancing drugs. She served a six-month prison term for lying to the FBI. In 2010, she signed on with the WNBA’s Tulsa Shock team.
- Wyomia Tyus (1945) tied Wilma Rudolph’s record for the 100 meter in 1964 and won a gold medal. In 1968, she broke her own record. In all, she won a total of three gold and one bronze medals between 1964 to 1968. She was inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame in 1985.
- Wilma Rudolph (1940) was the first American woman to win three Olympic gold medals. Overcoming polio in her childhood at the age of sixteen, she won an Olympic bronze medal. She followed that up in 1960 by winning three more gold medals and setting records in all. She was inducted into the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame, Black Women’s Sports Hall of Fame and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and was chosen as the AP and UP Woman Athlete of the Year in 1960.
- Gail Devers (1966) triumphed over Graves’ disease and almost lost her feet early in her career. She came back to win the gold in the 100 meter in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. She was one of the fastest sprinters and hurdlers in history, and one of the all-time greatest track and field athletes.
- Mary Decker Slaney (1958) held every American record from the 800 meter to the 10,000 meter between 1982 and 1985. She won the World Outdoors in 1983 in both the 1500 and 3000 meter. She dominated sprints and hurdles for nearly ten years. She was also "Sports Illustrated"'s sportsperson in 1983.
- Evelyn Ashford (1957) won four Olympic gold medals and one silver medal between 1984 and 1992. She took a first in both the 100 and 200 meter in 1979 and 1981 at the World Cup. Between 1976 and 1992, she won nineteen national titles, including six indoors.
- Joan Benoit-Samuelson (1957) broke the female course record for the 1979 Boston Marathon. In 1983, she set records for the New England race and the world. She was possibly the greatest marathon female runner of the 20th century.
- Valerie Brisco (1960) won three gold medals and one silver medal in the 1984 Olympics. She holds the indoor world record in the 400 yard. In 1984, she took first place in the 200 meter and 400 meter, and in 1986, took first place in the 400 meter. She was the only American female runner to win a long distance Olympic gold medal.
- Lynn Jennings (1960) ran the Boston Marathon at the age of seventeen. Had she been old enough to officially enter, she would have placed third. In 1992, she set a record in the Olympic 10,000 meter. She is a nine time cross-country champion, three time Olympic medalist, three time World Cross-Country Champion and set ten American records. She also holds 39 national track, road and cross-country records from 1500 meters to 10,000 meters.
All these female runners deserve to be in the top ten. Many of them were pioneers in setting records and winning medals at the Olympics and competitions in America and the world.