EUGENE, Ore. -- Tori Bowie is starting to get this sprinting thing down.
Bowie, who focused primarily on the long jump in college and during her first year as a pro, took third in a photo finish Saturday in the women’s 100-meter at the 41st annual Prefontaine Classic with a blazing time of 10.82 seconds, just .02 seconds off her personal best.
Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the reigning Olympic champion in the women’s 100, edged out the Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure for the win as both sprinters finished in 10.81 seconds.
“This is a great start before the national championships,” the 24-year-old Bowie said after the meet at Eugene’s Hayward Field, which is also the site for the USATF Outdoor Championships later this month. “Going into this meet, I said I’d take anything in the 10.80s … That’d put me on track for where I want to be for the world championships.”
|Tori Bowie competes in the women's long jump at the Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field on May 30, 2014 in Eugene, Ore.
A two-time NCAA long jump champion, Bowie dabbled in the sprints a bit in college but had never put up elite-level marks in either race. When she turned pro in 2013 after a standout career at the Southern Mississippi, Bowie focused exclusively on the long jump, placing 13th at the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Poland with a mark of 6.12 meters.
“She really only long jumped up until last year,” Bowie’s coach, Lance Brauman, said. “She came to me in April 2014 (after the world indoor championships), and by June she started turning things on and started to learn some movements.”
Did she ever.
In just the second professional 200-meter race of her career, Bowie shocked the crowd at last year’s Prefontaine Classic, winning the women’s event in 22.18 seconds, a mark that would have earned her a silver medal at the 2013 world championships. Less than two months later she set another personal best, this time in the 100, turning in a time of 10.80 seconds at a Diamond League event in Monaco. It ended up being the fastest women’s 100 time of 2014.
“The hardest thing about these races is getting out of the blocks,” Bowie said about her transformation from jumper to sprinter. “That’s the difference between a 10.8 and a 10.6 in the 100.”
During Saturday’s race, Bowie was a hair slow at the start before blowing past most of the field that included three Olympic champions.
“Consistency in the blocks is key,” Brauman said. “She’ll have a good (start) every now and then, but it takes practice. That’s why you run races like this.
“We’re taking our time,” he added. “She held a little at the start but then ran right through the field. She’s just going to continue to improve and get ready for (nationals). Once she does the little things better, the times will come.”
Bowie’s potential in the sprints, the 100 in particular, seems limitless. Just two years ago her fastest 100 time was 11.14 seconds. Her 10.80 last July was the 17th-fastest women’s 100 mark in the world. Only four women have run faster times since 2010.
“I’m really still trying to learn how to run the 100, how to run the 200,” Bowie said. “But it’s coming along, its coming along.”