Chaunté Lowe is no stranger to hard work. As the American record-holder in the women’s high jump, she was the event favorite for London’s summer games back in 2012 — only to go home, devastatingly, without a medal. “I was crushed,” she recalls in the video above. “I wanted to take off my shoes and throw them in the crowd and retire from track forever. Because I didn’t do that…I’ve had so many amazing blessings that would have not happened had I quit.” Undeterred by past Olympic disappointment, Lowe glides into Rio on the momentum of her vertiginously high leap, ready to propel herself to gold. Lowe’s altitude while twisting over the pole must be seen to be believed; her record-breaking high jump measures a gravity-defying 2.05 meters — that’s about 6.5 feet. Beyond the incredible strength it takes to power oneself over the bar at such towering heights, Lowe's quiet confidence is what makes her so captivating to watch. This dedication to excellence has been brewing since she watched her first Olympic games when she was just four years old. “Nobody sees the toil that goes behind it; they see the glory,” Lowe says. “It’s the integrity and the perseverance coupled together that get you to that point." You can catch Lowe this week as she competes in the semi-finals of the women’s high jump on August 18.