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Olympic gold medalist spends time with young track athletes ‘to encourage them to be the best’

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Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Jackie Joyner-Kersee

MILWAUKEE -- She's won three gold medals, and is regarded as one of the greatest female track athletes of all time, but what Jackie Joyner-Kersee is doing now might be her greatest accomplishment.

"It's crazy," said Caleb Henry with the Wings of Glory Track Club. "It's crazy. It's the only way to describe it."

"To have an Olympic athlete in front of me, and to be one of the greatest, was something that I could have never imagined," said Alexis Hunter with the Wings of Glory Track Club.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Joyner-Kersee won three gold medals during four Olympics in the heptathlon, but she has a new goal.

"I am about young people," said Joyner-Kersee. "I love being able to encourage them to be the best that they can be."

She teamed up with Aurora Health Care to talk to young track athletes in Milwaukee about how she didn't allow asthma to slow her down.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee

"Dealing with young people that might have asthma, and that I could stand before them and share that I was stubborn, hard-headed, didn't do the things I needed to do to keep my asthma under control," said Joyner-Kersee.

"Just because you have asthma, this should not slow you down," said Dr. Lisa Sullivan-Vedder, Aurora Heath Care physician. "That people with asthma can do everything that anyone without asthma can do. You may have to think about it, and plan a little, but you really can do those things that you may not think you can do with asthma, and she's living proof that you can do that, above and beyond where you think you can go."

Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Jackie Joyner-KerseeAsthma or not, Joyner-Kersee knows every athlete has an obstacle to overcome to be the best they can be.

"I've dealt with a lot of image things that were negative for me, and she was just able to tell me, 'Don't let that bother you,'" said Alexis Hunter. "'Don't let that stop you from being great,' and to take that away from someone who is that amazing just makes me want to be that amazing as well."

"We were talking about the transition to college, and how that would be, and mainly about responsibilities, and how that is going to change," said Caleb Henry.

"To have the young track team and the young members to just be able to have a dialogue with me is just as exciting for me as it is for them," said Joyner-Kersee.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Joyner-Kersee said she was happy to pay it forward, just like some of her role models did for her.

"After the '84 Olympics, I was able to meet Wilma Rudolph, and she embraced me like we were just girl friends, and I'm looking up to her, so I am in this position, why not give up my time to young people and encourage them?" said Joyner-Kersee.

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