BEIJING (AP) — Things didn’t align quite perfectly for Tori Bowie in the 100-meter final on Monday: She sliced her finger on the starting blocks before the race and, once in those blocks, struggled to get off to a fast start.
But things have certainly aligned right to get her to Beijing and win a bronze medal at the world championships. Taken in by her grandmother as an infant after she was left at a foster home, she was coaxed into track as a teenager and proved to be a quick study. A very quick study.
The first call Bowie planned to make after leaving the Bird’s Nest? To her grandmother back in Mississippi, of course.
“She’s going to be really, really excited. She might even cry,” said Bowie, who finished .10 seconds behind winner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and .05 after runner-up Dafne Schippers. “I know that she’s extremely proud of me no matter what happens. Even if I hadn’t medaled, she would still be proud of me.”
Being here, in Beijing, seemed so surreal for Bowie, who grew up in Sandhill, Mississippi. So new to the sport, she’s running on athleticism more than technique. In another year – in time for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, she vowed – she will put everything together.
“I haven’t gotten anywhere close to my maximum,” said Bowie, who competed with a purple streak in her hair. “Over the next year, I will definitely focus more on strategizing.”
Her night got off to a crazy start. Setting up her starting blocks, she sliced the ring finger on her left hand and blood dripped onto the track. She got medical treatment – it didn’t require stitches, just a bandage – and was back in her lane.
Albeit, a little rattled.
Her start wasn’t the best and she could never close the gap on Fraser-Pryce, who ran away from the field on her way to defending her title.
“My mind was everywhere,” Bowie said. “Things could’ve been so much better. But I have to take it for what it is.
“From Sandhill, a small-country town, to Beijing …,” she said, her words trailing off.
Quite a journey, indeed. She said her grandmother “rescued” her from the foster home at 2 years old and is “basically a mother.”
As for Bowie’s foray into track, well, it wasn’t by choice. She considered herself a basketball player and only reluctantly showed up for track. Bowie was a fast learner, becoming a two-time state champion in the 100, 200 and long jump before competing at Southern Mississippi.
She’s only soared from there, winning the 100 at nationals to earn a place at the Bird’s Nest. And now a bronze medal.
“This is a major stepping stone for me,” Bowie said. “My entire life my grandmother told me I could do whatever I set my mind to.”