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World champion sprinter dies from childbirth complications


A frequent case among Black women

World champion sprinter and three-time Olympic medalist Tori Bowie died from complications related to childbirth, an autopsy found.

A report obtained by NBC News from the Orange County Medical Examiner's Office in Florida said Bowie, who diedMay 2  at age 32, had a “well developed fetus.” The athlete was estimated to have been 8 months pregnant and there was evidence that she was “undergoing labor (crowning)” at the time of her death, according to the medical examiner's report.

The manner of death was ruled natural, and toxicology results were negative, the medical examiner's office said.

Bowie was found at a residence in Orange County after sheriff’s deputies were asked to conduct a well-being check on a woman in her 30s who had not been seen or heard from in several days, authorities said last month. The woman found dead at the residence was identified as Frentorish “Tori” Bowie, with authorities saying there were “no signs of foul play.”

The autopsy found that possible complications contributing to Bowie's death included respiratory distress and eclampsia — the onset of seizures or a coma related to preeclampsia, a high blood pressure disorder that can occur during pregnancy, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“Eclampsia can happen without any previously observed signs or symptoms of preeclampsia,” the Mayo Clinic states on its website.

“Signs and symptoms that may appear before seizures include severe headaches, vision problems, mental confusion or altered behaviors. But, there are often no symptoms or warning signs,” it says, noting that eclampsia can occur before, during or after delivery.

Bowie's death was announced on May 3 by her management company and USA Track & Field.

“We’ve lost a client, dear friend, daughter and sister,” Icon Management Inc. said in a statement at the time. “Tori was a champion…a beacon of light that shined so bright! We’re truly heartbroken and our prayers are with the family, friends and everyone that loved her.”

Bowie was best known for running the anchor leg that earned America’s 4x100-meter relay team a gold medal in Brazil, leading a top-tier squad of Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix and English Gardner.

“I had the easiest job of all,” Bowie told NBC Sports at the time. “My teammates brought me the stick, and all I had to do was bring it to the finish line.”

A native of Sand Hill, Mississippi, Bowie also won the 100-meter silver and the 200-meter bronze in the 2016 Games. The athlete went on to win the 100-meter gold at the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London.

Bowie always credited her success to her loved ones, especially to the grandmother who raised her.

“Sand Hill doesn’t have any stop lights, not even one,” she said in a 2016 interview. “I mean, that’s all I’ve known my entire life. So I’m a small-country-town girl, even at heart.”