Trayvon Bromell spoke with Stuart Weir about his journey to world bronze medal-winning success and his road to Rio
The final of the men’s 100 metres at last year’s IAAF World Championships in Beijing was a long-awaited race. Of course it would establish the world’s best in 2015, but the race was also portrayed as ‘good versus evil’, with many feeling it essential that Usain Bolt defeated Justin Gatlin to preserve the honour of the sport. While all this was going on it was easy to miss the young runner coming through to take the bronze medal.
Trayvon Bromell, just a month past his 20th birthday, finished joint third in 9.92 He admits to having been as surprised as some of the fans.
“Going into the race I just wanted to do my best,” he said, as we spoke at the Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix in February where a tight muscle in warm-up sadly caused him to withdraw from the competition.
“Just being on that stage was a blessing, as was making the US team. Getting a medal in the Worlds was something I didn’t see coming. I really did not see myself in third place. In the race I saw Bolt and Gatlin pass me and I was like, ‘man I’m in fifth place’ and then I got to the line and looked across the lanes and I seemed to be third and I was shocked. I was real happy, it was something I’ll never forget.”
He added: “I think, had I known where I was, I would have come up with a better time.”
Bromell insists that winning a world medal at such a young age has not changed him. “I’m still the same person,” he said. “I work hard in everything I do. I go out with the passion and run the race I love doing. I love the sport. I love the speed. I’m having fun and that’s all I think about.”
Growing up he played a lot of sport, principally American football and some basketball. As he told me: “My family has a strong background in football. Not professional, but every guy in my family played football so I grew up loving the sport.”
“Getting a medal in the Worlds was something I didn’t see coming … I was real happy, it was something I’ll never forget”
He picked up so many injuries that eventually he decided that football was not his sport so he “gave track a go”. As a high school athlete Bromell recorded a 9.99 at Gibbs High School in St Petersburg, Florida, but with wind assistance of 4.0mps, double the allowable wind reading. In 2013 he took bronze in the Pan Am Juniors and a year later, silver in the World Juniors.
His mother was an influence in the decision to switch to running. “My mom had run track. She used to take me to parkruns,” he said. “She did have an influence on me because I could see how much she enjoyed running. She used to run 10 miles a day but I would say ‘I am not a distance runner. If I can’t be a sprinter, I’m not running’.”
The 20-year-old is a student at Baylor in Waco, Texas, originally studying communication but now health and kinesiology, with a particular interest in biomechanics. Afterwards he plans to do a Master’s in entertainment and business.
Back to track talk, Bromell explained that part of the reason for his surprise at his performance in Beijing was that 2015 had not totally gone to plan.
“2015 was a year of ups and downs,” he said. “I didn’t get the NCAA title that I wanted but it was a great race, running against a good friend (USC’s Andre De Grasse won in 9.75).”
He did however set a PB of 9.88. At the US trials in June he came second in 9.96 after clocking 9.84 in a heat and made the team for Beijing. His own assessment of the trials was: “I came second against a lot of good competitors so that was pretty good.”
Bromell does not feel that there is any secret to his progress and rapid rise in 2015. “My rise came from my drive, my hard work and motivation,” he said. “I have a long history of being beat up with injuries and things, so to overcome those things is a blessing.
“What happened has been a shock for me as I did not see it coming. My mom was a big influence. She worked hard in everything she did so that made me work hard. You learn from what you see your parents do and I saw my mom work hard so it made me do the same.”
“My rise came from my drive, my hard work and motivation”
Like everyone, his thoughts are now on the Rio Olympics but he looks ahead to it with a modest and sensible attitude. Knowing that it won’t be easy to make the US team his aim is “just staying focused and keeping hungry for what I want.”
He added: “My hope is just to be better then I was last year. That’s what I if pray for every day, just improvement and development in my craft and hopefully to put in a great performance and make the US team, get to Rio, perform to the best of my ability and hopefully get on the podium.”
Bromell has made some small adjustments to his training. “Lately I have been working a lot on speed endurance, just to help with keeping my speed going longer,” he said.
“I am also in the weights room getting stronger, doing more weights to become more powerful coming out of the blocks. For nothing has really changed because if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. It’s pretty much what I’ve been doing since I’ve been in college and it seems to be working pretty well.”
With that attitude and with age on his side – as Bolt and Gatlin approach the end of their careers – we have not seen the last of Bromell, not by a long way.