By Beau Eastes | May 30, 2017, 5:14 p.m. (ET)
Tori Bowie (R) competes in the women's 200-meter semifinals at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 at the Olympic Stadium on Aug. 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

 

EUGENE, Ore. – Tori Bowie continues to impress.

The collegiate long jumper turned Olympic sprinter beat out a loaded women’s 200-meter field at the Prefontaine Classic on Saturday, sprinting to victory in 21.77 seconds.

It was the fastest time in the world in almost two years, and it was enough to hold off a who’s who of elite sprinters from around the world. Among those Bowie beat:

Shaunae Miller-Uibo from the Bahamas, the reigning Olympic 400-meter champion, took second in 21.91.

Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson, the 100- and 200-meter Olympic champion last year, placed third in 21.98.

Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands, the 2015 world champion and 2016 Olympic silver medalist, was fourth at 22.30.

And Allyson Felix, the preeminent American sprinter of her generation with nine Olympic medals and who won the Olympic Games London 2012 at that distance, placed fifth in 22.33.

“I tried to go out there and just run by myself,” said Bowie, whose personal record also set a new Prefontaine Classic record, breaking Marion Jones’ mark of 21.81 from 1999. “I knew my purpose here was all about coming out of training and being in my own zone.”

Bowie was one of nine Americans to win Diamond League events at the Pre Classic. It’s a meet Bowie knows well, having shocked the field when she won the 200-meter in just her second professional race at that distance in 2015.

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An NCAA champion in the long jump and triple jump for the University of Southern Mississippi, Bowie turned pro in 2013 as a long jumper and made the 2014 world indoor championships, where she placed 13th. It was only after that, in her second year as a pro, when Bowie became a full-time sprinter.

One year later, in 2015, she earned bronze in the 100-meter at the world championships in Beijing. That set the stage for her dominant performance last summer at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, where she won a silver medal in the 100-meter, a bronze in the 200-meter and gold as part of the U.S. women’s 4x100-meter team.

And the 26-year-old continues to get faster. Bowie’s time Saturday at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field tied Inger Miller for the fifth-fastest time ever run by an American woman and tied for the 22nd-fastest mark in world history.

“No limits,” Bowie said when asked about how low she could go. “I’m trying not to get too excited or too down (this season). I’m trying to stay in that middle ground.”

Just the first 200 race of the year for Bowie — she took second in the 100 in 11.04 in Shanghai, her only other meet of 2017 — she said she’s trying to conserve as much energy as possible before the USATF Outdoor Championships, part of the Team USA Summer Champions Series, presented by Comcast, which takes place June 22-25 in Sacramento, California. That event determines which athletes go on to the IAAF World Championships on Aug. 5-13 in London.

“The main focus now was to come out here and try to have a competitive meet, so I can go back to Florida and prep well for the national championships,” said Bowie, who shaved .22 seconds off her previous-best 200-meter time. “You have to have a strategy of how much you want to hit the road to travel and compete. My plan this year is to compete as little as possible and keep training to keep my strength up.”

In addition to posting the fastest time in the world this year, Bowie’s mark Saturday was also the fastest by an American woman since Felix went 21.69 at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Eugene in 2012.

“I felt really good before the race, both physically and mentally,” Bowie said. “I came in not putting any pressure on myself this race. I executed my plan and it went well.”

Beau Eastes is a writer from Oregon. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.