Jackie Joyner-Kersee sends message of strength to Geneseo track star

MOLINE, Illinois – Three-time Olympic gold medalist, Jackie Joyner-Kersee paid a visit to the Taxslayer Center Sunday evening to talk with Quad City locals and high school athletes at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Gala - Geneseo track star Tori Verbeck one of them.

Verbeck has had four separate injuries during her high school sports career.

“I just run my body down,” says Verbeck. “My first major one was my freshman year of basketball.”

Her first injury was a tear to her ACL and would require months of therapy for the three-sport athlete to bounce back.

Verbeck has always looked up to Joyner-Kersee who is the keynote speaker at the event and a heptathlon athlete like herself.

The heptathlon lasts two days and contains seven different events – shot put, high jump, javelin, 100-meter, hurdles, 200-meter, and 800-meter.

The six-time Olympian knows those events and Verbeck’s struggles very well. She too dealt with multiple injuries during her career.

“I might not know them personally, but I know what it’s like,” comments Joyner-Kersee. “You’re young and your career is still ahead of you.”

Joyner-Kersee, one of the greatest heptathletes of all time reached out to Verbeck not too long ago, sending her a video when she was at her lowest point. The message to Verbeck was to take it one day at a time and to eventually regain her strength.

“That really speaks to me,” says Verbeck. “Especially with all my injuries.  All the trials she’s been through she doesn’t even look at those, she just looks at her blessings.”

At Sunday’s event, Verbeck met Joyner-Kersee face to face for the first time and reminded herself that any setback she encounters in her future track career is another hurdle she just has to hop over.

Verbeck will be continuing her track career at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where she will continue competing in the heptathlon.

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