Photo courtesy Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame
It isn't every day that you get a chance to meet an Olympic medalist in the flesh, let alone two. But the public will get that chance on Wednesday, May 31, at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum (1152 Lakeland Drive, 601-982-8264, msfame.com).
The museum is set to honor sprinter Tori Bowie and pole-vaulter Sam Kendricks with a meet and greet from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event is open to the public, with both Olympians coming to the event fresh off success at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore.
Bowie ran the 200-meter sprint in a blistering 21.77 seconds, beating a strong field that included Olympic champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica. Track-and-field athletes use the Prefontaine Classic as a warm-up before the U.S. Championships in June, which will qualify them for the International Association of Athletics Federation World Championships in London this August.
Bowie, a Sandhill, Miss., native, was a star athlete at Pisgah High School, where she was named All-State in both track and basketball. She focused on the long jump early in her career before switching to sprints.
Bowie went on to become a star at the University of Southern Mississippi, where she won national championships in the long jump in 2011 in both the indoor and outdoor events. She still holds the school record for the longest jumps for indoor and outdoor.
After winning her national titles, Conference USA named her the Female Athlete of the Year. Bowie turned pro after finishing college in 2012 and began to focus more on sprints. She came to national attention at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, where she took home three medals.
She earned her first medal with a second-place finish in the 100-meter dash, posting a time of 10.83 seconds. She then earned a bronze medal in the 200 meters with a time of 22.15 seconds. Bowie took home her first gold medal in the 4x100-meter relay with a time of 41.01 seconds.
At age 26, she is entering her prime as a sprinter and should be one of the top athletes for the U.S. in the 2020 Olympics in Japan.
Kendricks won the pole vault at this year's Prefontaine Classic in another stacked field that included Olympic gold medalist Thiago Braz da Silva of Brazil and world-record holder Renaud Lavillenie, among others. Kendricks won with a final clearance of 5.86 meters.
The former University of Mississippi star and Oxford, Miss., native took home the bronze in the pole vault in Rio. But it wasn't his medal-winning clearance that brought him to national attention at the games. During the middle of one of his attempts, Kendricks, who is a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve, stopped in his tracks to stand at attention while the U.S. national anthem played at the venue for a gold-medal winner.