Chaunte Howard Lowe sets American Record
At the Lausitzer International Athletics Meeting in Cottbus, Germany on May 30, 2010, Chaunte Lowe (nee Howard) broke the American record in the high jump, leaping 2.04 meters, which is 6 feet, 8.25 inches. Lowe made her first jump of the competition at 1.81 meters (5 feet 11.25 inches) and jumped at every height in the progression. It was on her third and final attempt at 2.04 meters that Lowe cleared the bar to set the American record. That jump bettered the previous American record held by Louise Ritter. Ritter jumped 2.03 meters (which is 6 feet, 8 inches) two times in 1988. The American high jump record was one of the oldest in the record books (twenty one years and 10 months old when Lowe broke it). The only standard event American women’s records that are older are the shot put (Ramona Pagel, June 1988) and the 1500 meters (Mary Slaney, July 1983).
It should come as no surprise that Lowe has claimed the American record. Her resume of accomplishments is outstanding:
– Two-time National Scholastic champion while in high school (2001, 2002)
– 2003 Pan American Junior Championships bronze medalist
– Three-time NCAA Champion (2004 indoors, 2004 outdoors, 2005 indoors) while at Georgia Tech
– Five-time USA Champion (2006 indoors, 2006 outdoors, 2008 outdoors, 2009 outdoors, 2010 indoors)
– 2004 and 2008 Olympian. In 2004 she did not qualify for the final. In 2008, she placed sixth with a jump of 1.99 meters.
– 2005 Outdoor World Championship silver medalist
– 2010 Indoor World Championship bronze medalist
Other than taking a year off in 2007 to give birth to her daughter, Jasmine, she has been a dominant force in American high jumping since she first burst on the scene in high school in 2001.
I remember Lowe when she was in high school because she was garnering similar attention as Shannon Rowbury (they’re the same year in high school). At the 2001 California State Meet, Rowbury won the 800 meters and Lowe won the high jump. At the 2002 California State Meet, Rowbury won the 1600 meters and Lowe, although she didn’t win an individual championship, placed second in three events (high jump, long jump, and triple jump), scoring twenty-four of her team’s fifty-seven points to help her team win the state championship. Interestingly the three athletes who beat Lowe at that 2002 state meet have also had their share of success beyond high school.
– High Jump-Sharon Day: both Day and Lowe jumped 5-11. Day won on misses. Day was Lowe’s Olympic high jump teammate in 2008.
– Long jump-Lena Bettis: 19-8.25 for Bettis to 19-5 for Lowe. Bettis was Lowe’s teammate at JW North. Bettis is still competing and placed fourteenth at the 2009 USA Championships in the triple jump.
– Triple Jump-Michelle Sanford: 41-5.25 for Sanford to 40-4.25 for Lowe. Sanford competed in the long jump and triple jump at the University of Southern California.
I have never met or talked to Lowe. But I enjoyed watching her compete in the high jump at the Beijing Olympics. After she was eliminated in the high jump, she stayed in the competition area and cheered for the remaining competitors. When the eventual gold medal winner Tia Hellebaut set a new personal record by clearing 2.05, Lowe jumped up and down and ran over to Hellebaut and hugged her. You would have thought it was Lowe that won the gold medal based on the smile and joy on her face.
At the 2009 World Championships I again noticed what a people person she is. She could be seen interacting with her fellow high jumpers during the preliminaries. During introductions before the high jump final, all the other jumpers waved to the crowd when introduced and then went back to their warm-ups. After Lowe’s name was called she stayed in the area and clapped for everyone that was introduced after her. Throughout the competition, Lowe was cheering people on. She led the rhythmic clapping when Amy Acuff cleared 1.92 and Lowe was on her feet cheering and trying to use some vicarious body language of her own to help Acuff clear 1.95. Acuff has been competing since long before Lowe was even in high school. I am sure Lowe looks up to Acuff; she showed tremendous respect for Acuff in what was probably Acuff’s last international championship meet. Later in the meet, when US runner Marshevet Hooker pulled up in the 200 meters with an apparent hamstring injury, Lowe immediately ran over to see if she was OK.
I am just very impressed at the positive sportsmanship and friendly personality that Lowe displays. It’s refreshing to see and she certainly makes a fantastic role model for young athletes. I feel proud that she was a product of the California high school track & field system. I think she represents the United States and California very well. For those reasons, I have become a fan of hers and I am excited and happy for her this week. It is nice to see a class act like Chaunte Lowe become the American record holder.