Shannon Rowbury

Track & Field

Served as envoy

  • 2017  –  Morocco

Shannon Rowbury is a three-time Olympian, two-time World Championships Bronze medalist, six-time United States champion, and the American Record Holder at 1500m, 2 miles, and 5000m. At the time, her 6th and 7th place finishes at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing were the highest finishes ever by an American woman at that distance. In August of 2016, she finished 4th place at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In June 2009, she won the US Championships at 1500m for the second time and shortly thereafter, she earned a Bronze medal at the World Championships in the same distance. Despite all of her achievements, Shannon’s most impressive performance to date came in July of 2015 when she broke the American 1500m record that stood for nearly 32 years, running a blistering fast 3:56.29. She is also the second fastest miler in American history.

A recognized world-class runner with a tremendous range from 800m to 5000m, Shannon’s story is as much about strength and perseverance against odds as it is about speed. In 2007, while a film student and athlete at Duke University, Shannon won the mile race at the NCAA Indoor Championships and then placed second in the 3000m an hour and a half later. Shortly after that indoor season, her collegiate career was abruptly cut short due to an injury that could have permanently sidelined her from her sport. This major setback forced Shannon to evaluate her physical limitations and challenged her emotional strength and passion for running. Through diligent rehabilitation, determination and an unfailing resolve to resume the sport that she loves, Shannon emerged stronger than ever and was back training for the 2008 Olympics within six months.

Running is Shannon’s second sport; Irish Dancing was her first. Beginning at the age of six, Shannon competed in Irish Dancing competitions throughout the country and twice at the World Championships in Ireland. She was ranked 7th nationally, before retiring at the age of 16 to focus on the sport she was introduced to just before her freshman year of high school—running. Shannon believes Irish Dancing was the foundation for her successful running career, preparing her mentally for competition and developing her coordination, balance and speed.