Mississippi Olympians Tori Bowie, Ralph Boston die

Published 11:33 am Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Tori Bowie, the sprinter who won three Olympic medals at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, has died. She was 32.

Bowie’s death was announced Wednesday by her management company and USA Track and Field. No cause of death was given.

“USATF is deeply saddened by the passing of Tori Bowie, a three-time Olympic medalist and two-time world champion,” USA Track and Field CEO Max Siegel said in a statement. “A talented athlete, her impact on the sport is immeasurable, and she will be greatly missed,”

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Growing up in Sandhill, Mississippi, Bowie was coaxed into track as a teenager and quickly rose up the ranks as a sprinter and long jumper. She attended Southern Miss, where she swept the NCAA long jump championships at the indoor and outdoor events in 2011.

Bowie turned in an electric performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she won silver in the 100 and bronze in the 200. She then ran the anchor leg on a 4×100 team with Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix and English Gardner to take gold.

A year later, she won the 100 meters at the 2017 world championships in London. She also helped the 4×100 team to gold.

Bowie was taken in by her grandmother as an infant after she was left at a foster home. She considered herself a basketball player and only reluctantly showed up for track, but Bowie was a fast learner, becoming a state champion in the 100, 200 and long jump before going to college.

Her first major international medal was a 100-meter bronze at worlds in 2015. After winning, she said, “my entire life my grandmother told me I could do whatever I set my mind to.”

Ralph Boston

In a post on Twitter, Icon Management included a picture of Bowie holding up her hands in the shape of a heart. The management company wrote: “We’ve lost a client, dear friend, daughter and sister. Tori was a champion … a beacon of light that shined so bright! We’re truly heartbroken and our prayers are with the family and friends.”

Bowie is the second Olympian from Mississippi to die this week. Ralph Boston, who won medals in the long jump at the 1960, 1964 and 1968 Olympics, died April 30 from complications of a stroke. He was 83.

Boston won the gold medal at the 1960 Rome games when he jumped a then-Olympic record of 26 feet, 7.5 inches. He later won a silver medal in Tokyo in 1964 and the bronze in Mexico City in 1968. Boston was also the first athlete to long jump 27 feet and held the world record at several points in the 1960s.

Boston, a native of Laurel, was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1976, the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1974, and into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1985.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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