Chaunte Lowe is an amazingly inspiring athlete. Stuart Weir did this piece on Chaunte Lowe….
ChauntÃ© Lowe and her daughter’s ice-cream
I first met ChauntÃ© Lowe at the 2012 World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, where she won the gold medal. At the winner’s press conference, ChauntÃ© was asked if she is spoken to her then five-year old daughter, Jasmine, as yet. ChauntÃ© confirmed that she had informed Jasmine that she had won and had got a surprising answer. Five-year old Jasmine replied: ‘I already know that but did you get my ice-cream?’ ChauntÃ©, to compensate for her absence, had promised her daughter ice-cream. She added, ‘She is really focused on that ice-cream and is determined to get it and I will make sure she gets it when she sees me in the airport tomorrow night’.
Winning the World Indoors was a surprise to her as she explained afterwards: ““The way we do our training we don’t really peak for indoors. We don’t get into our speed training or any kind of strength training. We don’t have indoor facilities and a lot of the workouts we are doing are in 32 degrees Fahrenheit – very cold”.
At the age of 20 she had been selected for the US team for the Athens Olympics (2004). Going into the Olympics her best ever jump was 1.92 metres, achieved in March 2004. However on the world stage that was not going to be enough to make an Olympic final and she went out in the qualifying competition.
The following year she made her breakthrough, winning a silver medal at the World Athletics Championships in Helsinki with a 2.00 metre jump. She attributed her success to using her disappointment at the Olympics as a springboard: “I was able to harness all the energy and go composed to the World Championships and get a silver medal. It was just a well-executed plan in 2005”.
ChauntÃ© has a remarkable championship record. As well as winning the world indoors in 2012 to she took bronze in 2010. She was second in the World (outdoor) Championship in 2005 and sixth in 2009. She finished third in the 2008 Olympics, sixth in 2012 and fourth (on count-back when the top four all achieved the same height) in 2016.
While sixth in the 2012 Olympics is by most people standards are good achievement, it represented a disappointment for ChauntÃ© as 2012 was a year in which she won the World Indoors and four Golden League competitions. It has to be said that the London women’s Olympic competition was phenomenal with three ladies on 2:03 or better.
ChauntÃ©’s success in 2012 was perhaps a little surprising given her challenging preparation. Her second daughter was born in April 2011- which wiped out her 2011 season: ‘My second daughter was very unexpected but my husband and I had been through a couple of things where we really appreciate the life of a child. And no matter what happened, I was not going to put athletics and my plan above God’s plan. At that time it was what he had for me and I had to put all my training on hold. I had just gotten the American record and everything seemed to be looking up. It was God’s plan for me to a daughter and for Aurora to become part of our family’.
ChauntÃ© had previous experience when it came to competing as a mother. Her first daughter, Jasmine, had been born in 2007 – bringing great joy after ChauntÃ© had suffered a couple of losses previously. She took the year off but returned strongly in 2008. She made the Olympic final but was not quite in the medals, finishing sixth with 1.99m. She was disappointed at the time, saying: ‘2008 was a bit more difficult. I had just come back from having my first daughter. She was about one year old. I felt ready and I felt prepared but everything did not line up. And at that point I was frustrated and it was “OK, God , what is going on?” And something small in my spirit said “Everything in my timing”. It wasn’t my time and it was wonderful to watch Tia Hellebaut [of Belgium] win the gold medal’. Years later, when two Russians and a Ukrainian were disqualified for doping offences, ChauntÃ© received the bronze medal.
Comong back to 2012, if competing with one daughter was hard, life with two daughters was almost impossible. “In the last year I quit track every single day! Every day!” she told me. “I was like, ‘I can’t try to push to train hard because I have just had a bab'”. I had lost 20 kilos and I just said, ‘Ok God, whatever you put on front of me to do today, I’ll get through it’ and then that night I would be up all night with the baby and I would quit. ‘I quit. I am not going back'”. But with a woman’s legendary ability to multi-task, she did go back next day and the next and the next.
ChauntÃ© is a follower of Jesus, something which affects her whole life. As she puts it, “Jesus paid the price for me. To know that Jesus Christ died on the cross for me gives me confidence that when I leave this place I will for ever be with God and be in his presence. That means everything to me. Life it is not about storing up treasure for this life, you are preparing for your life when your spirit leaves your body”.
Up there with her championship medals is being the American record holder. In 2010, broke the US high jump record with 2.05m at the USA Nationals in Des Moines, a record which still stands.