Shannon Rowbury is a long-time member of Team USA track and field. At the Rio Olympic Games, the 31-year-old 1,500-meter runner will attempt to win her first Olympic medal. She has previously competed at the Olympics on two other occasions.
Below, you can get to know American Olympic middle distance runner Shannon Rowbury with these five fast facts.
1. Rowbury’s Olympic experience.
Rowbury has landed in Rio to compete in her third Olympic Games. In 2008, Shannon finished seventh in the 1,500-meter, and in 2012 she finished sixth. Rowbury’s sixth place finish is the best ever in the event by an American woman in the modern Olympics.
2. Before she became a runner, Shannon Rowbury was a competitive dancer.
Rowbury’s first competitive experience didn’t come on the track. Before she was ever a runner, Rowbury was a competitive Irish dancer. She found her way to running when she was in high school, she told Athletics Illustrated in 2014.
“I was in Irish Dance and then soccer; it wasn’t until high school that I turned to running. I had a friend who was on the team and went out and discovered that I had some level of talent.”
It may seem odd to have made the leap from Irish dancing to the track, but Rowbury told Athletics Illustrated that the skills and agility she learned as a dancer translated well to running.
“Actually Irish Dance was better for running than soccer was in some ways as it helped with core and hip strength and very much the lower leg as well as the fast twitch muscles,” she said. “In national and international dance, the skills translate to running. It also helped develop good running form. Soccer was very good, but Irish Dance was even better.”
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3. Rowbury studied many subjects at Duke.
Before she settled on film, Shannon tried her hand as an English major and a theater major. She eventually began working on documentaries, and nearly eight years ago worked on a documentary about the 2005 women’s cross country team at Duke. During that year she was a senior.
“I started out as an English major but wanted something more creative. I switched to theater, but felt a little constricted. I found film and it was a great outlet,” Rowbury told USA Track and Field in 2008. “I have my masters from Duke, a masters in humanities. My focus was film studies and women’s studies.”
4. Rowbury’s husband is a Mexican artist.
Rowbury married Pablo Solares on April 11, 2015. Solares is accomplished as a fine artist, but he also was a middle distance runner at Rice University. He holds the Mexican records for the 800-meter, 1,500-meter, and indoor mile.
5. When she’s finished running, Rowbury would like to work in TV.
Shannon has said in the past that she would enjoy working in broadcast journalism or film production when her athletic career is over. She believes that her experience on the track would help her in these career fields, she told Athletics Illustrated.
“Perhaps the film production route or broadcast journalism. An athletics career and a professional broadcast career are not mutually exclusive… I have had some minor work with NBC as a spotter and beginner positions. I am focusing on my athletics career, but when my running career is over, I would like to work where I can use the skills I have developed and in a career where I can put my creativity to good use.”
Will you tune in to watch Rowbury run the 1,500-meter at the Olympic Games?
[Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images Sport]