Many of her fans are not old enough to recognize the track runner Beyoncé was channelling for Halloween, but for those of a certain age, her Flo-Jo impersonation (complete with single-legged tights, black hair, and long, lacquered nails) was spot-on. And Beyoncé’s husband Jay-Z was dressed as Tommie Smith, one of three athletes whose Black Power salute on the podium rocked the Mexico City Olympics in 1968.
At the US Olympic Trials in 1988, Florence Griffith Joyner set records for both the 100m (10.49 seconds) and 200m that still stand, and her flamboyant style on the track made her instantly recognizable. Flo-Jo went on to win three gold medals at the Seoul Olympics. In 1998 she died in her sleep of an epileptic seizure at age 38.
Tommy Smith and John Carlos won gold and bronze, respectively, in the 200m sprint at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, and during the medal ceremony they raised their right fists, clad in black gloves, in protest against racial inequality in the US. Both were suspended for the rest of the Games.
In one of her Instagram photos, Beyoncé is even seen mid-sprint, wearing track spikes.
Smith pre-dated Flo-Jo by 20 years, but who’s counting? It’s Halloween.