November 14, 2021 

How basketball contributed to Olympian Brittany Bowe’s speedskating success

Before she was an Olympic medalist, Bowe was the starting point guard at FAU

Before she was a world record holder and world champion on the speed skating oval, Olympic medalist Brittany Bowe made a name for herself on the Division I college basketball court.

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The multi-talented Bowe was the starting point guard at Florida Atlantic University from 2006 to 2010, averaging about nine points per game. Her senior year, she averaged 12.2 points, 4.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game while shooting better than 40% from the field.

The 33-year-old from Ocala, Fla., is currently training to make her third Olympic team, where she will seek a second medal to complement the bronze she won in PyeongChang in 2018. Bowe won gold in the 1,000 meters at the World Championships in the Netherlands this spring and is the favorite to win that event at the Beijing Olympics.

Although the two sports seem a world apart, Bowe believes basketball made her a better skater.

“In basketball, you are using every muscle from the top of your head to the tips of your toes,” Bowe said, “and you fast forward to speed skating, and it is a very lower-body dominant sport. I think everything I have taken from basketball, just being able to do very athletic movements in different directions, such as stop and go, has just made my body prepared to adapt and learn a new skill.”

Bowe was an academic All-American at FAU and is a member of FAU’s athletic Hall of Fame, much like recent Naismith Hall of Fame inductee Yolanda Griffith.

“Going through four years of collegiate basketball definitely helped build my backbone really strong,” Bowe said. “If anybody has been a part of the collegiate system, you know the system is very challenging with dealing how to navigate classes and training. Your coach is probably going to be the hardest person on you in your entire life. They will dig your grave and pick you back up out of your grave, so my four years of playing basketball really taught me how to be resilient and how to overcome obstacles and to be a team player.”

Chancellor Dugan was Bowe’s coach at FAU and guided the Owls from 1999 to 2012. She is currently the head coach at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., which is about to start its second year in Division I and is in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

“I loved coaching sophomore, junior and senior year Brittany Bowe,” Dugan wrote in an email. “Freshman year Brittany Bowe was a different story, ‘ha ha.’ She always worked so hard and I could push her, but man, was she HARD HEADED! And I know that she will throw that back at me — and she’s right, I am. That’s why we butted heads.

“We had to learn to communicate with each other. We both wanted the same thing — to win! She always had a great motor and wanted to be the best at whatever she did. I’m so proud of her. She told all of us that she was going to be in the Olympics, and she made it come true.”

A multi-sport threat even in her college days, Bowe won a gold medal in inline skating at the 2007 Pan-American Games after her freshman year at FAU, before leaving that sport to focus on her college basketball career.

“There was never a question in my mind that I wasn’t going to Beijing [in 2022],” the 20-time world championship medalist added. “With all of the COVID challenges, you keep training and training, and at some point, our ultimate goal is to compete for Beijing. In the last year, training has gotten pretty monotonous. Knowing that I am the best in the world going into this year is a blessing for sure.”

Written by Scott Mammoser

Scott Mammoser has covered major international events for FIBA, World Athletics and the International Skating Union. He has been to six Olympics and traveled to more than 90 countries.

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