Olympian Tori Bowie Died from Childbirth Complications, Autopsy Finds
Olympic sprinter Tori Bowie died from childbirth complications, according to an autopsy report from Florida’s Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The 32-year-old was about eight months pregnant when she died, as the autopsy reported she had a “well-developed fetus” and was crowning in labor. Her death was ruled natural, and it was reported her family was not aware of the pregnancy.
Bowie was found at her home on May 2 after a welfare check.
Respiratory distress and eclampsia were sited as possible complications in the tragedy. Eclampsia is a rare but serious side effect of preeclampsia, a disorder when pregnant people have a sudden drop in blood pressure. The preeclampsia rate for Black women is 60% higher than white women.
Eclampsia is characterized by seizures during pregnancy or postpartum. There are often no warning signs of eclampsia before, during or after delivery, and eclampsia requires emergency medical attention.
The maternal health crisis in the United States continues to disproportionately effect Black people. Black women being three to five times more likely to die from childbirth-related complications compared to white women.
Though there has been increased efforts and education to significantly reduce Black maternal mortality rates, tragedies like Bowie’s serve as a painful reminder of the increased and preventable dangers of childbirth for Black women.
Bowie was raised by her grandmother in Sand Hill, Mississippi. She had her eye on basketball before being moved by track. The gold medalist started her successful athletic career as a long jumper.
Fifty years from now, I want you to know there’s going to be amazing days in the sportTori Bowie, &scape 2018
She was part of the winning 100-meter relay team in 2016, when she also won silver in the individual 100-meter race and bronze in the 200. Bowie became the fastest woman in the world in 2017, snagging gold in the 100 at the World Athletics Championship in London.
She competed in the 2019 World Champions and did not enter into the Toyko Olympics.
In 2018, Bowie wrote a letter of encouragement to women athletes 50 years from now.
“It will never be an easy day. To be successful as an athlete, on any level, requires a ton of time, hard work and dedication. It’s basically like a marriage, something you have to be committed to 100 percent,” she wrote. “Fifty years from now, I want you to know there’s going to be amazing days in the sport, and there’s going to be days when you want to quit and give up. But on those days, you have to know your purpose. You have to know what you’re fighting for.”