Athletics: Bizarre send-off awaits Flo-Jo

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The Independent Online
FLORENCE GRIFFITH JOYNER will have a bizarre send-off - her fans will today pay their respects in a public viewing to be held in Los Angeles.

Griffith Joyner, a star of the 1988 Olympics, died in her sleep Monday at the age 38 of undetermined causes at her home in nearby Mission Viejo.

A public funeral is planned for tomorrow morning in the Lake Tahoe town of Lake Forest at Saddleback Valley Community Church, which can accommodate about 3,200 people.

The cause of Flo-Jo's death remained under investigation, coroner's officials said on Wednesday. The Olympic gold medallist and World record-holder for 100 and 200 metres, felt "a little tired" after appearing at a gymnastics meeting and visiting her mother in Santa Barbara on Sunday, said her former coach Bob Kersee, who added that there were "no signs whatsoever that Florence was ill". He said that she did suffer from exercise- induced asthma and migraine headaches.

Coroner's tests were continuing, and results might take weeks, according to Hector Rivera, the Orange County sheriff.

On Tuesday, hundreds of well-wishers and friends gathered in Los Angeles' Leimert Park, not far from where Griffith Joyner grew up, to say prayers, sing songs and remember her contributions to the community.

Arne Ljungqvist, a vice president of the International Amateur Athletic Federation and the organisation's top anti- doping official, said it would be unfair to speculate about Griffith Joyner and performance-enhancing drugs.

"It's very unfortunate for sport if one is accused of doping just for being an extremely good athlete," he said.