A five-time national champion, Diamond League Champion, IAAF World Indoor Championships bronze medalist and two-time Olympic Games finalist, Shannon Rowbury has the experience of a veteran. However, she perceives her success as the progression of a lasting career with even more on the horizon.
At age 31, Rowbury believes she’s still improving in training. “I’ve been able to stay healthy and been able to build over years,” she said. “I have that physical fitness and aerobic strength and an understanding of how the sport of track and field works. I think that knowledge is really important when you’re in those races, and to have confidence from it is really valuable.”
Rowbury concluded the 2015 indoor season undefeated after she surged through the finish line tape in Boston to complete the 1-mile, 2-mile USATF Indoor Championships double, bringing home her first national title since winning the 1,500m at 2009 USATF Outdoors, and her first USATF Indoors title since 2008. She also won her first Wanamaker Mile at Millrose Games (4:24.32) last year, and outdoors broke Mary Decker’s 31-year-old American record in the 1500 (3:56.29) in addition to setting an AR in the 2-mile (9:20.25).
That consistency has painted an ambitious 2016 picture for the defending indoor national champion, who will soon compete in her new hometown of Portland, Oregon, with every intention of accomplishing that same two-event, title claiming feat she enjoyed one year ago. And with a chance to represent Team USA in her own backyard, a multitude of emotions are propelling her preparation.
“I love championship training, and fortunately it seems to be a situation that I’ve done well at in the past,” she said. “I think that there’s just a certain level of excitement and obviously there’s pressure because you have to be able to perform on that predetermined day and you have to be in the top two for indoors.
“There’s an energy in the air that’s palpable - the bigger the race, the bigger the venue, the higher the stakes, the better I do. Don’t get me wrong. I still get nervous, but it’s still a thrill going into those events.”
In 2014, Rowbury finished second in the 3,000 meters at USATF Indoor Championships, qualifying to wear the stars and stripes at IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland, where she finished eighth (9:07.82) in the event.
Just a few weeks ago, Rowbury took home her second Wanamaker Mile title at the NYRR Millrose Games, putting forth a dominant effort that saw her win by nearly two seconds over Beijing teammate Kerri Gallagher.
“(I’ve) have been training really strong (this year). I know that it’s going to be a tough field, and I just want to put myself in the best position to bring a medal home at Worlds.
“It’s a huge year. The Olympic year comes once every four years. Adding on to that, to have the World Champs in the U.S. and in Portland, there is no shortage of excitement this year. I’m really excited to be coming off of a successful year like I had in 2015, and excited to be able to carry that forward and do some great things.”