RIO DE JANEIRO -- Tori Bowie raced into the history books by winning a bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and accomplished a dream years in the making.
“My goal was to finish the best that I could,” Bowie said. “I am leaving with another medal and I now have two.”
Her time was 22.15 seconds. The bronze medal is Bowie’s second at the Rio Olympics. She won a silver medal after running the women’s 100-meter in 10.83 seconds.
However, it wasn’t easy.
Bowie was behind the leaders at the start of the race. She attacked the curve and surged ahead down the last straightaway, outlasting the field to reach the podium.
“The start in the blocks is not the way I normally execute,” she said. “I’m not sure what happened, but overall I am thankful with how the race went.”
Bowie finished ahead of teammate Deajah Stevens, who was seventh. Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson, who was first in the 100-meter earlier this week, won another gold medal with a time of 21.78 seconds.
With the bronze in hand, Bowie said both medals are special, especially given everything she has gone through in life.
“It is an amazing feeling and I can’t ask for more,” Bowie said.
As an infant, Bowie spent time in a foster home before moving to Sand Hill, Mississippi, to live with her grandmother. The move brought her closer to family, as she lived among 20 cousins, aunts and uncles in the area.
Her family inspired her to try track and field. She started off as a long jumper, winning the NCAA indoor and outdoor championship at Southern Mississippi.
This led to an invitation to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. However, Bowie suffered a broken jaw that kept her from qualifying for the Games in London. As a result, she was left home watching on television. It was the women’s 100-meter and 200-meter that peaked her interest in sprinting.
“I just became motivated watching these ladies,” she said.
So, in 2013, she decided to become a full-time sprinter. She believed she could be just as fast as U.S. greats Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter, who finished 1-3 in London in the 200.
It didn’t take long for her to prove it. Bowie won the bronze medal at the 2015 world championships in Beijing and followed that up by setting a personal-best time of 21.99 seconds to win the 2016 Prefontaine Classic.
This vaulted her back to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials on July 10. However, this time she would punch her ticket to the Rio Games, finishing first in the 200-meter final.
One month later, she is one of the three fastest 200-meter athletes in the world.
“This is my first championship in the 200 meters,” Bowie said. “Overall, I am just thankful for the experience and I know what it takes to be a champion right now. I have something to go back home and work towards. That is what I look forward to the most.”
Bowie is scheduled to compete in the women’s 4x100-meter on Thursday. She said she doesn’t know what the future holds, but she hopes to continue winning more medals.
“Hopefully, Team USA can come out with a golden relay,” she said.
Jaylon Thompson is a student in the Sports Media Certificate program at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.