Friends and family of Olympic gold medalist Frentorish “Tori” Bowie gathered in her hometown, Sandhill, Miss., to lay her to rest on Saturday.
According to the New York Times, the funeral took place at the True Vine Baptist Church in Brandon, Miss., but the funeral cortege traveled to Sandhilll for Tori’s burial at a cemetery located near the town’s welcoming sign that reads: “Welcome to the Community of Sandhill, Home of Olympic Gold Medalist Tori Bowie.”
Though the community gathered to pay their respects and honor the track star, questions undoubtedly swarmed their heads about what could’ve caused a healthy 32-year-old Olympic athlete’s death.
Rev. Sylvester London officiated the ceremony and provided the eulogy, expressing his disbelief after learning Tori had died.
“I was shocked, shocked,” London shared. “Then I started to pray.”
Orange County, FL, officials discovered Tori’s lifeless body in a home while conducting a wellness check on Tuesday (May 2) because those close to her hadn’t heard from or seen the track star, News Onyx reported.
An Orange County medical examiner examined Tori’s body but hasn’t released a cause of death since toxicology reports are pending and could take up to three months.
However, the examiner revealed that Tori was pregnant. It’s uncertain if Tori carried to term prior to her death, but the funeral program read she was “preceded in death” by her daughter Ariana Bowie.
Although Tori’s friends, family and fellow athletes hadn’t heard from or seen her before her death, it wasn’t sudden. Athletes, who trained and competed with Tori, said she became distant in recent years.
Kimberly N. Holland, the 32-year-old’s agent, noticed Tori’s change in behavior, stating she dealt with paranoia and anxiety.
Tori distanced herself from those she loved and who loved her, but no one knew why. Sonya Varnell, a longtime Senior Associate Athletic Director at the University of Southern Mississippi (where Tori attended), and Olympic gold medalist Al Joyner said Tori stopped answering their calls and texts.
Holland said Tori eventually contacted her weeks before she died and sounded happy.
“I can’t even put the words into how much joy came across the phone,” Holland explained. “She giggled like an innocent child. It was the old Tori again.”
Holland added, “She was excited, she was so excited.”
All the funeral attendees watched videos of Bowie that played during the service, shocked that America lost an incredible athlete at a young age.
During an interview in 2016, when Tori was about to debut in the Olympics, she was overwhelmed with emotion visiting her hometown and high school, Pisgah High School. She made it extremely clear that she loved visiting home and wanted to make her town proud.
“One day, I hope that I can come to Sandhill and there’s this huge sign that says, ‘Welcome to Sanhill, home of Tori Bowie.'”
Her wish came true in 2018 when the town put up a new sign, giving a nod to the athlete.
“When I’m back in Sandhill, I feel free,” Tori shared in the 2016 video interview.
The same year, Tori made her mark on the world after winning the Olympic 4×100-meter relay on Aug. 19, 2016. She did the same the following year at the Olympic Stadium in London.