LONDON -- Lying on the track, shoulder and hip burning from her fall after crossing the 100-meter finish line, Tori Bowie had no idea what to expect.
"I was just trying to get to the finish line," Bowie said. "I knew I was in the mix, I knew I was in the top three. I didn't know if I had won or not."
The 26-year-old American used a furious charge over the final 20 meters to close in on the frontrunner, Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast. Bowie leaned so hard at the tape, she tumbled forward, ripping the skin off her shoulder and bruising several other parts of her body.
When Bowie stood up, the winner still had not been announced. When the scoreboard flashed her name in first place at 10.85 seconds, .01 ahead of Ta Lou, the moment knocked her back down.
The fastest woman in the world lay on her back and covered her face with her hands. "I was like, 'Oh my God, I can't believe this just happened. This is the greatest night of my life,'" Bowie said.
Bowie is a slender, shy country girl from rural Sand Hill, Mississippi. At several points during interviews after Sunday's race, she was overwhelmed by emotion and took some time to compose herself. But there is steely determination beneath her reticence, which fueled her devastating late-race charge.
"I don't know where the finishing comes from. I guess, just hungry -- a determined, motivated moment," she said. "It just comes from instinct, from wanting it so bad."
The favorite Sunday was Elaine Thompson of Jamaica, who won the 100 and 200 in Rio, the first woman to complete that double since Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988. On Sunday, Thompson stumbled slightly when Bowie passed her halfway down the track. She finished fifth in 10.98, well off her season best of 10.71. Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands finished third in 10.96.
"Honestly, I don't know what happened," Thompson said. "I came out here with a brave heart and a strong mind. It didn't go as I planned, but you have to give those other girls a lot of credit."
Last year at the Rio Olympics, Bowie used another closing burst to move from fourth place to second, losing by a step to Thompson. On Sunday, Ta Lou led the entire race from Lane 4, and had no idea Bowie was bearing down on her from Lane 7. Ta Lou did not lean at the tape, and looked to her left with a shocked expression as Bowie flashed past.
"I didn't see her coming," Ta Lou said. "But it's OK, I have a medal."
Bowie, though, has the gold. She specialized in the long jump at the University of Southern Mississippi, and many consider the 200 to be her best event. Yet she insisted on focusing on the 100 in London.
"I'm probably the only person in the world who thought I could come out here and win the 100 meters tonight," Bowie said. "I learned a lot from tonight. I learned to always follow your heart."