Jasmin Stowers is the ninth-fastest woman in history for the 100m hurdles. The US sprint hurdler’s career high came at the 2015 Drake Relays, while the low point of her life so far was when her father was deployed to Iraq.
The high moment of my career came at the 2015 Drake Relays shortly after I had turned professional.
I adopted a more serious attitude to the sport during the winter leading into the 2015 season. I changed some technical elements to my hurdling with my coach, Dennis Shaver. I also knew I wasn’t in the shape I should be. I changed my diet, decreased by consumption of sweets and made sure I ate the right foods with better portion sizes. I lost some weight and went into the outdoor season with optimism after winning the US indoor 60m hurdles title.
I went into the Drake Relays scared and a little nervous, despite my coach telling me my times were fast in practise. I was up against a world-class field, which included a 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson and 2013 world champion Brianna Rollins. On paper, I was the slowest in that field.
My aim was to get a strong start. If I did that, I trusted in my finish and I knew I could be competitive. I made a reasonable start, but from that point on I don’t remember too much. I don’t think too many people expected me to run so quickly but as I flashed across the line first in 12.40 (0.31 quicker than her previous best) I thought, ‘is this real?’
For me, this performance was a real game changer. I’d beaten some of the world’s best hurdlers and people really started to know who I was. I was talked of as a future world record-holder and invited to Diamond League meets. It opened my eyes to the possibilities of track and field and how I could grow in the sport.
It also proved to myself it was the right decision for to turn professional.
A real low moment came when my dad, Tim, was deployed with the Army for his second spell in Iraq in 2010.
Some years earlier, when I was in middle school, he had left to Iraq for the first time. I recall crying because I missed him and I was worried about him.
The second time it happened seemed worse because we didn’t expect him to leave to go to Iraq again. It had a big impact on family life. I was about to enter my freshman year at Louisiana State University and it was hard for mom to look after three kids. I recall she took on extra work to make sure we had enough food on the table.
Obviously, the biggest concern when anyone is away in the military is the risk of being killed. Our family are very close and the thought of my dad – a very laid back but funny guy – not being around was be heart-breaking.
I would speak to him maybe once a month. We would send him care packages and he would send letters. I recall one time speaking to him in my college room hearing bombs going off in the background. I cried because I was worried about his safety.
I was both excited and relieved when he safely arrived home after a year in Iraq.
Steve Landells for the IAAF