Bawcom earned her way onto the Olympic team with a solid performance at the Olympic Trials. When Bawcom came to the United States, she settled in Searcy and attended Harding University. In her first 5000m race, she barely broke 20 minutes. By the time she graduated in 2005, Bawcom had eight NCAA All-America honors and won three Division II national championships. She graduated with a degree in health care management, and is pursuing her nursing license.
Bawcom is the first Harding athlete to compete in the Olympics.
Bawcom grew up the oldest of eight siblings in a single-parent household in a village near Kapsabet, Kenya where running was culturally unacceptable for females. As a teen, Olympic champion Peter Rono ra ninto Bawcom and told her running could be a route to American colleges for Kenyans. After that chance encounter, Bawcom began running. Two years later, she was noticed at a local track by a Harding University coach who happened to be visiting his home in Kenya. He offered her a scholarship and she accepted.
The rest is history. Hopefully, Olympic history....