Hailing from a town called Sandhill, Mississippi, sprinter Tori Bowie won an Olympic silver medal in the 100-meter race in Rio on Saturday, Aug. 13. The athlete made a bit of a career change a few years back when she decided to switch from the long jump to the 100-meter dash. After scoring second place in the race, she proved that sometimes shaking things up isn’t always a bad idea, and in her case, it may have been the best decision she could have made. Winning an Olympic medal and finishing ahead of favorite Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica, she’ll certainly be one to look out for in future games.
During the 100-meter final, Bowie beat Fraser-Pryce by .03 seconds, coming in at 10.83 seconds, while the two-time gold medalist came in at 10.86 seconds. Fraser-Pryce’s performance may have been affected by a toe injury that required her to take time off from training earlier this year. But for the 25-year-old American to come in ahead of the former reigning champion in her first Olympic appearance is quite the accomplishment. Bowie expressed her great hope to People ahead of the games: “One day I hope that I can come to Sandhill, and there’s a huge sign that says ‘Welcome to Sandhill, Home to Tori Bowie.” Thanks to that win, her dream might just come true.
Bowie’s full name is Frentorish Bowie, and she credits her grandmother and the Sandhill community for her success. “I always said that it takes a village to raise a child,” Bowie told NBC during a visit to her hometown. Bowie and her sister Tamarra were placed in a foster home when Bowie was just two, and her grandmother, Bobbie Smith, fought for custody of her and her sister, Smith told People magazine. Eventually, the grandmother succeeded. These circumstances that contribute to Bowie’s story will undoubtedly inspire other women who came from similar upbringings — especially women of color — to pursue their dreams.
Bowie has been involved in her sport for quite some time, though the 2016 Rio games are the first Olympics she’s competed in. The now-25-year-old attended the University of Southern Mississippi, where she was a long jump champion in the 2011 NCAA Collegiate Championships. Several years later, she came in third place in the 100-meters at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing. And after her victory at the Olympics, she may just get that big-small town welcome that she wished for. Looking at her record, it’s clear that she’s already earned it.