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Freshman Sprinter Has Sights Set on Rio in 2016

April 19, 2014

By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Insider

Trayvon Bromell doesn't believe that the sky is the limit. That's not high or far enough.

"I feel like that's the model for back then," said Bromell, a Baylor freshman sprinter from St. Petersburg, Fla. "The future is getting crazy. There are some great people coming out, and it's going to shock the world."

This 18-year-old freshman phenom has already shocked the track world twice in the last 10 months, blazing to a wind-aided winning time of 9.99 in the 100 meters at last summer's Great Southwest Classic in Albuquerque, N.M., and then tying the world junior record with a time of 10.01 seconds at last month's Texas Relays in Austin.

"When you're the Gatorade National Athlete of the Year, you've got some pretty big shoes that you're wearing already," said Baylor coach Todd Harbour. "Trayvon came in with high expectations. So, what he has done has not really surprised us in any way, especially because of his work ethic and who he is and how dedicated and focused he is. But to see him do it this early in the season, that's pretty special. . . . I think great things are coming down the road for him."

Bromell will make his home debut at Saturday's Michael Johnson Dr Pepper Classic, which serves as the swan song for the 52-year-old Hart-Patterson Track and Field Complex. Baylor moves into the new Clyde Hart Track and Field Stadium next year.

"It's always busy hosting a home meet with all the activities we have: the alumni coming back, the seniors we recognize," Harbour said. "But I haven't really had the chance to sit down and reflect that this is the last time."

In just a matter of months, Bromell has already etched his name alongside - and in some cases ahead of - the meet's namesake. His 10.01-second clocking at Texas Relays shattered the school record and was 12 hundredths of a second better than Johnson's fastest time (10.13) at Baylor.

And the crazy thing is that it was far from a perfect race.

"In the finals, I got out great, I just stumbled again," he said. "And I guess people are saying that when I leaned (at the tape), that kind of slowed me down a lot, too. So, it was just the little things that I have to clean up - just run through my race, don't worry about leaning, and making sure I have my blocks set straight so I don't stumble coming out."

That says faster times are coming.

"Based on the TCU meet, when he ran fast in the 200," said associate head coach Michael Ford, referencing a 20.23-second time that ranks fourth nationally, "I thought he was ready to run about 10.1 (in the 100). Then he goes out and runs 10.02 the first day (in the Texas Relays prelims), and I'm like, `Whoah!' That was impressive. . . . Hopefully, we can duplicate those times again later on at the conference meet and regional meet and nationals."

Really, though, nothing Bromell does should come as a surprise. As the Gatorade National Track and Field Athlete of the Year, he won the New Balance Nationals and Golden South Classic in the nation's fastest wind-legal time of 10.27.

That senior year, he also won the 100 meters, took second in the 200 and anchored the Gibbs High School 4x100-meter relay team to a state championship. After winning the 100 at the USA Junior Championships, he earned two medals at the Pan American Junior Championships with a bronze in the 100 and gold as a member of USA's 4x100 relay.

But it was that 9.99 clocking in Albuquerque that grabbed everyone's attention.

"When I set up my blocks, it was like my whole my mind just went completely blank," he said. "When the gun went off, I just went off and tried to keep my composure and stay straight and make sure I hit every one of my techniques right and finish my race strong. And when that time came up, it was crazy."

Before the time was flashed on the scoreboard, the announcer said, "Oh, y'all going to love this1"

"I knew I was on the verge of running faster and faster," Bromell said. "If not in high school, in college I was going to get close to running that time. I don't really try to look too much back on it. That was a great accomplishment. But now I'm trying to run it legally."

Bromell was raised in an Army family, where discipline is demanded not expected - "Don't do this, no playing games."

But when it came to chasing his dreams, "don't ever let anybody tell you that you can't do something," he said.

"A lot of people would probably be like, `Oh, he's too small. He needs to get stronger,''' said the 5-foot-9, 160-pound Bromell. "I feel like I've proved a lot to show people that anything is possible, especially for the younger athletes. I don't have to be this size to run this fast. . . . Nothing is impossible. I try to prove that you can do anything, especially if you keep your faith in God."

That's why he won't rule out a run at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And not just to run, but to win, against the likes of Jamaica's Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake and American sprinters Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay.

"I know it's not the same sport, but look at the gymnasts," Bromell said. "Gabby Douglas was 16 (when she won the individual all-around gold medal at the 2012 Olympics). Why can't I be 20 and win the Olympics? Anything is possible. That's my goal. I want to make it to Rio, and that's what I'm working hard for."

Led by Bromell, the Baylor men's team is ranked 13th nationally, but lost indoor national champion triple jumper Felix Obi to a knee injury. The women's team is ranked 19th and includes indoor runner-up Tiffani McReynolds in the hurdles.

Also entered in Saturday's meet is Texas, which is ranked third for the women and just behind Baylor at No. 16 for the men. The field also includes Angelo State, George Mason, SMU (women only), TCU, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Tulsa and UTA.

The meet begins at 9:30 a.m. with the men's and women's hammer and javelin. An afternoon running session from 1 to 4 p.m. is followed by Senior Recognition at 4:40 p.m., the Last Lap Ceremony at 4:50 and the evening running session starting at 5.

"I think our athletes are pretty excited about it," Harbour said. "We told them, `Hey guys, this is a special honor to be the last ones on it.' That's pretty neat, so hopefully they will take advantage of it."



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