ATHLETICS: Flo-Jo's coach mystified by death

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The Independent Online
THE AMERICAN public will have a chance to pay their final respects to Florence Griffith Joyner today when a public viewing will be held at a funeral home in Los Angeles.

Griffith Joyner, the world record holder at 100m and 200m and a winner of three gold medals at the 1988 Olympics, died in her sleep on Monday at the age of 38 at her home in Mission Viejo. The cause of her death has not been determined yet, but her career was overshadowed by allegations of drug abuse.

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.

Bob Kersee, Griffith Joyner's former coach, said she had felt "a little tired" after appearing at a gymnastics meeting and visiting her mother in Santa Barbara on Sunday. Kersee added that there were "no signs whatsoever that Florence was ill". He said that she suffered from exercise- induced asthma and migraine headaches.

Coroner's tests are 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, the International Amateur Athletic Federation'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," Ljungqvist said.