Saleia Stowe brings home the gold at AAU Jr. Olympics

Saleia Stowe proudly displays her medals.

Saleia Stowe brings home the gold at AAU Jr. Olympics
August 15
12:36 2023

When making a list of dominant athletes, names like Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, and Tiger Woods are just a few that come to mind. If she continues on the path she’s been on for the past two years, soon there will be another athlete that will be associated with dominance: Saleia Stowe. 

Last month at the AAU Jr. Olympic Games, Stowe, who is a rising second grader at Forsyth Academy, placed first in the 800-meter run for her age group. The win at the Jr. Olympics adds to an already impressive resume that includes state titles in the 400m and 200m, and national titles in the 400m. Stowe also still holds the five-year-old national record in the 400m, which she shattered by 10 seconds two years ago. 

This season Stowe decided to add the 800m and the dominance has continued. In fact, the 800m may be her best race. Heading into the finals at the Jr. Olympics, Stowe had already earned the top seed based on her times in the preliminary rounds.

Stowe got out to a strong start in the finals but was boxed in by other runners. At about the 100-meter mark Stowe started to make her move toward the front of the pack. After pacing herself for about the next 400 meters, ultimately staying in the back pocket of the lead runner, Stowe took the lead and never looked back. 

At the 600-meter mark Stowe went into another gear and started to break away, and by the 700-meter mark it was just her against the clock. Stowe finished with a time of 2:52 and took home the gold medal. Stowe also finished ninth in the 400m in the Jr. Olympics. 

Stowe said although she started running the 800m because she was looking for a new challenge, it’s now her favorite race. “It was the 400 but now I like the 800 more,” she said. 

When asked what she thinks about during the 800, which is two laps around the track, Stowe said she is usually playing music in her mind. Some of Stowe’s favorites during races are “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys and “Track Star” by Mooski. 

“I really don’t think about much … really all I have in my mind are these songs,” she said. 

Steve Stowe, Saleia’s father, said it’s been exciting to see his daughter’s growth over the past two years. He said it’s been amazing to see her reach heights on the track that he didn’t even reach in the Jr. Olympics. In high school, Stowe ran track at North Forsyth and earned a scholarship to NC A&T State University. 

“That first year was rough in the beginning. She would cry when she lost, but she figured it out by mid-season. Then last year she didn’t lose at all, she dominated the six-year-olds,” Stowe said. “This year I saw a lot of fight in her … this was her longest season we ever started in November, with cross country. I think what’s big about her is not only  her winning, but she’s putting times out there that nobody her age ever put out.”

Saleia says she enjoys track because she gets to meet (and beat) new friends from all around the country and now the world. While track is by far her favorite sport, Saleia also enjoys softball, soccer, gymnastics, and soon she’ll be giving cheerleading a try. 

To follow Shaleia’s journey on and off the track, follow her Instagram page, @trackstar_lei.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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