Wilson hails late Bowie as spectacular athlete

WILSON…AT the tender age of 32 years old, for her to pass away, I think that her contribution to the sport would’ve been shortened

NATIONAL track and field Coach Maurice Wilson says the world lost what he described as “a gem of an athlete” with the death of Olympian Tori Bowie. Bowie, a former Olympic and world champion, died at her home in Florida at age 32. The cause of her death is still unclear.

Bowie anchored the United States of America’s Women’s 4x100m relay team that won gold ahead of Jamaica at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. She also claimed a silver medal in the women’s 100m sprint and a bronze in the 200m. Bowie was accomplished in the jumps, having won NCAA indoor and outdoor long jump championships in 2011.

“I was extremely surprised and saddened,” Wilson told the Jamaica Observer. “I actually thought about how talented she was. I started to think about her contribution to the sport as someone who emerged from being a long jumper to a prime, elite sprinter. At the tender age of 32 years old, for her to pass away, I think that her contribution to the sport would’ve been shortened.

“We have really lost a gem of an athlete and condolences to her family, to her former coach — my very good friend Lance Brauman, and also to her supporters.”

Wilson says he was impressed with her physique, which he says made her excel at relays.

“She had the physical attributes. She was about 5’9”, but she was tall enough and carried very good body weight. She appeared to be very slim but she was very strong. She had excellent elastic characteristics, and that made her a spectacular athlete.

“What was surprising about her is that she was not necessarily the best over 60m,” he says. “I think her personal best (PB) was 7.11 seconds, but what she had was her top-end speed and that, in my opinion, is what made the difference in the relays. Her speed endurance was awesome. I can remember clearly how spectacularly she ran her leg in that relay [in Rio],” Wilson, who was responsible for preparing Jamaica for that 4x100m race, said.

While Jamaican fans are ambivalent to many American sprinters because of the rivalry between both nations in track and field, Bowie was one who was generally well received locally. Wilson says this is because of her southern American upbringing, to which he says many Jamaicans could relate.

“She grew up in southern Mississippi, and she had that drawl of a southern belle,” he said. “So people were drawn to her because she was very humble. I can remember having a couple of exchanges with her and I just spoke to her because I wanted to hear her speak, similarly to how people wanted to hear Jamaicans speak.”

Many of Bowie’s colleagues have expressed sadness at her passing on social media.

Shelly-ann Fraser-pryce, who anchored Jamaica’s team in Rio, commented on World Athletics’ post about the passing, saying, “This breaks my heart. Rest in peace, Tori.”

Australian sprint hurdler Sally Pearson had similar sentiments.

“Heartbreaking news to wake up to,” she said. “Rest in peace, Tori.”

Elaine Thompson Herah, another member of Team Jamaica, describes it as said.

“If this sad one more time,” she said. “SIP, Tori.”

Bowie, who won the 100m at the World Athletics Championships in London, England, in 2017, had a personal best of 10.78s over that distance. Her long jump personal best was 6.91m, while she clocked a personal best of 21.77s over 200m.

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