Flo Hyman bigraphy, stories - Volleyball player

Flo Hyman : biography

July 31, 1954 - January 24, 1986

Flora ("Flo") Jean Hyman (July 31, 1954 – January 24, 1986) was an American volleyball athlete and Olympic silver medalist. She died during a volleyball match in Japan as a result of Marfan syndrome.


  • Three times All American
  • World Cup Competition, top six players of 1981
  • Best Hitter, World Cup Competition 1981
  • Bronze medal in the 1982 World Championship Peru
  • Silver medal in the 1984 US Olympics
  • Sports Illustrated November 29, 1999 #69 on greatest woman athletes of the century
  • The Flo Hyman Memorial Award is named in her honor.
  • In 1985, Flo Hyman appeared in a film entitled Order of the Black Eagle, in which she portrayed a knife-wielding mercenary named Spike.
  • The National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD), is celebrated in all 50 states with a variety of activities, to remember and honor Flo Hyman. It was created and is supported by Girls Incorporated, Girl Scouts of the USA, the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport, the Women's Sports Foundation and the YWCA of the U.S.A.http://www.aahperd.org/nagws/programs/ngwsd/History.cfm


After the Olympics, Hyman moved to Japan, where she played for the Daiei team. In the summer of 1986, she intended to return to the United States permanently, but never got the chance to do so. On January 24, 1986, Hyman collapsed while sitting on the sidelines after being substituted out in a game against Hitachi. She told her team to keep fighting, then moments later slid to the floor and died.

At first, the cause of her death was stated to be a heart attack, but an autopsy carried out in Culver City, California, six days after her death, at the request of her family, discovered that she had a very healthy heart. Instead, Flo Hyman's death was due to an aortic dissection resulting from previously undiagnosed Marfan syndrome, a relatively common genetic disorder that affects more than 1 in 5,000 people.http://www.marfan.org/marfan/2280/About-Marfan-Syndrome|National Marfan Foundation Apart from her height, near-sightedness, very long arms and large hands, she showed few other physical symptoms. Hyman's sneaker size was a US size 12. There was a three week old blood clot around the tear, indicating that an earlier rip in the same spot had already begun to heal when the fatal second rupture occurred in her aorta.http://www.volleyhall.org/hyman.html

Doctors later discovered Hyman's brother had Marfan's Syndrome as well, and he underwent an open heart surgery afterwards. Experts believed Hyman was lucky to have survived as long as she did, playing a physically demanding sport such as volleyball.

She is buried at Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California.

Early Life and Education

Hyman was the second of eight children. She was always the tallest in her grade, and as a child, Hyman was self-conscious about her rapid growth and height, but her mother taught her to be proud of it. Hyman's parents were tall. Her father was 6'1" (1.85 m) tall and her mother 5'11" (1.80 m), but Flo was to outgrow both of them. She stood six feet tall (1.83m) on her 12th birthday and her final adult height, which she reached by her 17th birthday, was just over 6' 5" (1.96 m).

Hyman graduated from Morningside High School in Inglewood, California and then attended El Camino College for one year before transferring to the University of Houston as that school's first female scholarship athlete. She did not complete her final year, focusing her attention on her volleyball career. Hyman said she would graduate once her volleyball career was over and that "You can go to school when you're 60. You're only young once, and you can only do this once".

Contribution to volleyball

"I had to learn to be honest with myself. I had to recognize my pain threshold. When I hit the floor, I have to realize it's not as if I broke a bone. Pushing yourself over the barrier is a habit. I know I can do it and try something else crazy. If you want to win the war, you've got to pay the price."

By 1974, Hyman was a member of the US volleyball team, but the team did not play in the 1980 Olympic Games due to the boycott of the Moscow games. Hyman played in the 1981 World Cup and the 1982 World Championship, when the US won the bronze medal. A speciality of Hyman was the "Flying Clutchman," a fast, hard-impacting volleyball spike that travels at 110 mph (180 km/h). It was perfected under Dr. Gideon Ariel, a former 1960 and 1964 Olympic shot putter in Coto de Caza, California. At the 1984 Olympics, Hyman, by now both the tallest and oldest member of the team, led the US to the silver medal, beaten by China in the final. The United States had defeated them earlier in the tournament.

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