Los Angeles: Tori Bowie, a three-time Olympic medallist and 2017 100m world champion, was remembered on Wednesday as a rare athletics talent and warm friend after her death at the age of 32.
Bowie anchored the US team that won 4x100m relay gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she also earned silver in the 100m and 200m bronze.
USA Track and Field and her management company confirmed her death a day after sheriff's deputies in Orlando, Florida, found her dead at her home.
"This is beyond stats and speed," retired US sprint great Justin Gatlin said on Instagram. "Tori was a beautiful human being and had a smile that made you want to smile too.
"A country girl that loved her roots. I remember sitting with Tori and listening to her stories of growing up and racing horses on foot lol. She was a fierce competitor and great team-mate. A true legend that made her mark in our sport and hearts."
USATF chief executive Max Siegel said the federation was "deeply saddened" by Bowie's death.
"A talented athlete, her impact on the sport is immeasurable, and she will be greatly missed," Siegel said.
Icon Management tweeted they were "devastated to share the very sad news that Tori Bowie has passed away.
"We've lost a client, dear friend, daughter and sister," the firm said.
A cause of death was not immediately known.
The Sheriff's Office in Orange County, Florida, said deputies had found the woman identified as Bowie "when conducting a well-being check of a woman in her 30s who had not been seen or heard from in several days."
"Entry was made into the residence and a woman, tentatively identified as Frentorish "Tori" Bowie (DOB: 8/27/1990), was found dead in the home. There were no signs of foul play."
Bowie, raised by her grandmother in rural Mississippi, converted from the long jump in 2014 and became the fastest woman in the world that year.
Two years later in Rio, she prevented a Jamaican clean sweep of the 100m medals when she finished second to Elaine Thompson in a time of 10.83sec with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce third.
She won the 100m world title in London the following year and remains the lone American woman to win an Olympic or world 100m title since Carmelita Jeter in 2011.
"I'm so heartbroken over this," 2012 Olympic long jump gold medallist Brittney Reese said. "You have made a lot of us proud thank you for representing our state of Mississippi like you did."
"This hurt," tweeted Will Claye, who has represented the US internationally in triple jump and long jump. "Long live the champ, the sister, the daughter, the model and so much more!"
Sprinter Tianna Madison posted a picture of herself and Bowie on Twitter as they celebrated the United States' relay triumph in Rio.
Fraser-Pryce, the Jamaican reigning world 100m champion, tweeted: "My heart breaks for the family of Tori Bowie. A great competitor and source of light. Your energy and smile will always be with me. Rest in peace."
US Olympic athlete Lolo Jones also paid tribute to Bowie on Twitter, calling her an "incredible talent" and "A beautiful runner."
- Like miracles -
Bowie received a hero's welcome in her home state after her 2016 Olympic exploits, the governor declaring November 25, 2016 "Tori Bowie Day."
Pisgah High School, in the small town of Sand Hill, displayed a sign designating "Tori Bowie Lane" on campus.
"To see things like that and like this, it's just like miracles, I guess," Bowie told the Hattiesburg American newspaper in Mississippi.
Bowie re-entered the long jump and came fourth at the 2019 world championships in Doha, her last major competition.
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said in a statement he was "Shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Olympic gold medallist Tori Bowie.
"In this moment of grief, let me express my heartfelt condolences to her family and friends. The sports world has lost a true champion." -- AFP