ANAHEIM, Calif. — Bald, beautiful and powerful, Chaunte Lowe sat on a podium here in late January and smiled radiantly at an NCAA convention audience. She projected confidence. She’d been diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer of 2019; she’d undergone a double mastectomy; she’d fought through chemotherapy; and none of that was going to stop her from making her fifth U.S. Olympic team as a high jumper come June.
It was an attitude we’d all aspire to have. But around the sport—and assuredly in a small corner of her own relentlessly optimistic mind—there were doubts.
Any 36-year-old athlete is fighting the tyranny of time, but what about a 36-year-old mother of three who is recovering from a body-ravaging disease? From chemo to Tokyo in less than a year seemed impossible.
Then the pandemic struck. Beyond the horrific loss of life globally and nationally, it also smashed a hole in the Olympic movement. Tokyo 2020 became Tokyo 2021, to the consternation of thousands of aspiring Olympians. Carefully laid plans were torn up. For many athletes, the timing could not have been worse.
For Lowe, the timing could not have been better.
“I needed every single day of that time to be able to train,” she said. “I’ve come back from pregnancy three times, so I know that it’s not impossible. I know I could have done it [in 2020], but it would have been a lot harder.”
Nothing seems too hard for Lowe. The fact that she barely even blinked after her cancer diagnosis is consistent with her outlook on life, and the way she’s lived it since her youth.
Growing up in a troubled family in California, young Chaunte used to walk miles to church by herself. She said her mother was in the throes of addiction and her father was incarcerated. Bills went unpaid, and utilities were turned off. After staying for a while with an aunt, she went to live permanently with her grandmother.
Faith, she says, pulled her through a childhood fraught with peril. Her grandma went to church several times a week, and her uncle was the pastor at Riverside Faith Temple. That became her anchor.
Along the way, she came to realize she possessed a remarkable natural bounce, in both a literal and figurative sense. She could rise—above troubles and off the ground—in a way that other kids could not match. “I didn’t walk anywhere,” she said. “I jumped.” She jumped her way to a scholarship at Georgia Tech.
Lowe made her first Olympic team in 2004 as a 20-year-old sophomore at Tech. She retroactively won a bronze medal from the ’08 Olympics in Beijing, after later drug tests stripped the results of three competitors who finished ahead of her. She jumped an American outdoor record 2.05 meters in 2010 and an indoor record of 2.02 in 2012.
She won the world indoor championship in 2012 less than a year after giving birth to her second daughter, but finished sixth at the London Games. Between London and the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, where she…
Read More: Chaunte Lowe: Breast cancer battle, US Olympic team traini 2020-05-29 18:32:00