The American athlete Tori Bowie, triple Olympic medalist in Rio 2016 in speed tests, has been found dead at her Florida home at the age of 32, Icon, her representation agency, reported on Wednesday. “We are devastated to share the very sad news that Tori Bowie has passed away. We have lost a client, a dear friend, daughter and sister. Tori was a champion…a beacon of light that shined so bright! We are truly heartbroken and our prayers are with her family and friends, ”says the announcement, which does not specify the causes of her death. The North American won silver in the 100 meters, bronze in the 200 meters and gold in the 4×100 relay in the Brazilian event. She was also double world athletics champion in London 2017 in 100 and 4×100, and bronze in the 100m at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, among other achievements.
“We’re devastated to share the very sad news that Tori Bowie has passed away. We’ve lost a client, dear friend, daughter and sister. Tori was a champion…a beacon of light that shined so bright! We’re truly heartbroken and our prayers are with the family and friends. pic.twitter.com/ES83SjM7u4
—Icon Management Inc. (@iconmanagement) May 3, 2023
Of humble origins, Bowie was raised by her grandmother in Sandhill, in rural Mississippi. And she did not forget her roots. “My grandmother has been the role model in my life,” she said in a 2016 interview with People magazine. At the age of two, both she and her sister, Tamarra, were placed in a foster home by her biological mother, and that’s when her grandmother, then 47, who had already raised five children of her own. “She fought for us, she got our custody. We didn’t have much, but she gave us character.” Her grandmother, Bobbie Smith, who barely saw her compete live because she has never taken planes or liked to leave town, left her a series of lessons. “I encouraged them to go to school, not think about boys at a young age and do good,” she told NBC some time ago. “And they followed my advice.”
That Bowie personality was applied to athletics. She started out in the long jump, where in 2011 she was a national champion with the University of Southern Mississippi, but in 2014 her explosiveness led her to switch events and become a sprint specialist. She was not wrong: that same year she was the fastest woman in the world in 100 meters. And two years later she would win the triplet of medals in Rio, something only within the reach of a handful of chosen ones. The podiums at the World Cups in Beijing and London showed that her success was not a flash in the pan. Since 2011, only she and her compatriot Carmelita Jeter have broken the overwhelming dominance of a mighty generation of Jamaican sprinters led by Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson in that competition.
At the 2019 Doha World Cup, Bowie returned to her roots and competed in the long jump, where she finished fourth. It would be the last time she would touch metal in a major competition. She would not be able to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, postponed one year, until 2021, due to the covid, and she would remain active until June 2022.
Among the sprinters who shared the track with her, the feeling is one of disbelief. “The truth is that I was dismayed by the news, she was a super young athlete and I remember having run with her on some occasion, like at the Madrid meeting in 2019. Now we can only wish her to rest in peace,” she tells this newspaper the Spanish sprinter Maribel Pérez. American Noah Lyles, star of the men’s 200m, reacted on Twitter. “I can not believe this. He had just heard that she was going to be with her sister at home and now this. It breaks my heart and I will keep the family in my prayers.” Her onetime rival, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, also remembered her. “A great competitor and light source. Your energy and smile will always be with me.”
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