Track Star Tori Bowie Died in Childbirth

Bowie’s ascension to the fastest woman in the world began on a basketball court in Sandhill, Miss.

Pisgah High School was too small to field separate basketball and track teams, so if Bowie wanted to play basketball, she would have to run track, too. She went on to help her track team win state titles, competing in the 100 meters, 200 meters, 4×100-meter relay and long jump.

When she was recruited by the University of Southern Mississippi, she said she would compete in track and field if she could try to make the women’s basketball team as a walk-on. She ended up sticking with track.

When she turned pro in 2013, her greatest potential seemed to be in the long jump. But she quickly transitioned to sprinting, and her career blossomed. Bowie became a three-time Olympic medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics before earning the title of fastest woman in the world with a win in the 100 meters at the world championships a year later.

She was generous with her success, her friend Antoine Preudhomme said, and would visit foster homes across Florida and Mississippi three to four times a year to deliver gifts and spend time with the children.

In the past few years, Bowie, who was always private, turned more inward and lost touch with many of the coaches who were part of her journey to the top of the sport.

“She even backed away from me,” her longtime agent, Kimberly N. Holland, said the day of the funeral. “But she always found her way back because of the bond we had.”

She had been excited about the pregnancy, Holland said. The two talked on the phone a few weeks before she died.

“It was one of the best conversations we’ve had in a long time,” Holland said over the phone on Monday. “We just giggled like schoolgirls. We laughed so hard my stomach was hurting.”

Bowie agreed to go to Atlanta so Holland could help raise the baby. They were both so excited, Holland said, “just hearing the joy.” It was the last time they spoke.

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