By Jeffrey Swindoll
Sophomore sprinter Trayvon Bromell is on top of the collegiate track and field world. No one seems to be able to stop him.
An injury nearly brought him down, but he overcame it. He started his career at Baylor as well as anybody could have hoped, winning the national title, but he continues to grow, and a future as the face of U.S. track and field looms large.
Though his future is certainly bright, consistently winning his events and meet titles for Baylor and the Junior Olympic team, there was a time that it looked like his track career would be cut short. Injuries to both of his knees and hip in 2009 and 2010 pushed him to the brink.
“It was a process,” Bromell said. “It made me stronger as a person, spiritually and physically. I put my faith in God, knowing he would get me through it. Throughout the whole thing it was a struggle because, really, where I’m coming from, you don’t have a lot of resources.”
“I didn’t have the resources and my family didn’t either, but God got us through it and it all paid off.”
Bromell is quiet and sure of what he does. He spends no time praising himself, yet exudes confidence in his abilities when speaking of his career goals.
Coming out of high school, Bromell’s name already carried various state and national awards, foreshadowing of what was to come in his collegiate career.
Bromell, originally from St. Petersburg, Fla., recorded the fastest time ever run by a high school athlete in the 100-meter dash (9.99 seconds) in his victory at the the Great Southwest Classic Title.
He won the 100-meter event at the U.S. Junior Championships, claimed bronze in the 100 and gold in 4×100 relay with Team USA at the Pan American Junior Championships. Additionally, Bromell won various state titles in Florida for Gibbs High School. He was the first high-school junior to surpass the 10-second barrier in the 100-meter dash.
Clearly back to full strength and succeeding tremendously after the injury, Bromell was about to make his name bigger in his first two years as a collegiate sprinter. Bromell wasted no time in blowing up on the collegiate track & field scene.
2014 was Bromell’s year in the 100. He tied the world junior record (9.97 seconds) at the Texas Relays in Austin, claimed the US Junior Championship title and won the 2014 NCAA and Big 12 Outdoor Championships in the 100-meter dash.
“I feel like it’s motivation,” Bromell said about posting record times at a young age. “There are not too many people that are able to run those times. Being able to go out, under 21 and run a 10.01, 10.02 consistently shows how strong I’m getting and the work ethic that we have here at Baylor.”
He achieved the sports highest titles at the collegiate and junior levels in the 100, but Bromell did not stop there. Still growing and challenging himself, Bromell opted to run the 200-meter race at the 2015 Indoor Big 12 Championships. Bromell did not seem to have the evident dominance he boasted in the 100, but defied the critics and won the 200-meter Big 12 title.
“I knew I could run it, and I’m not going to say I doubted myself, but I just felt like my short sprints would be better than my 200,” Bromell said. “God showed me that I can’t just put one race bigger than the other. He gave me the talent to run fast in all races. I feel like now I’m good in both.”
Bromell refuses to coast through his collegiate career, expanding from the 100 to the 200. He has already touched on his plan to eventually compete in the 400-meter as well.
“I’ve never run the 400. That’s something we’re trying to build on. It’s a work in progress,” Bromell said. “I know if a lot of people say I can run a fast 200 then I can easily run the 400. I’m getting stronger in practice, in my races, so you’ll be able to see me run the 400 real soon.”
The Olympics seem to be Bromell’s eventual destination, but it is still a long ways away from where he is now.
After a phenomenal first two years in collegiate track, he made his presence on that radar even bigger than it already was.
“Trayvon is a super, super young man and just has the world in front of him right now,” head coach Todd Harbour said. “We’re just thankful that he’s a Baylor Bear, but he’s turning some heads right now, for sure.”
Bromell has stated numerous he is aware of his potential to ultimately reach the Olympics, but often goes on to say he tries to keep things in perspective.
“Yes, [going to the Olympics] is my goal, but you have to take it one step at a time,” Bromell said. “You can’t get too far ahead of yourself. You never know what could happen any given day. The thing is moving forward on each individual day. That way, each step at a time, you know what you need to accomplish each day and execute in your race. The next day comes and that’s what happens.”
Harbour said he believes it. Bromell believes it himself. He has even gotten some looks from past olympic gold-medalists.
Former Baylor track star and four-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson had some words to say about Bromell and his future as an Olympic competitor for the US after watching Bromell win the 100-meter event at the 2015 Michael Johnson Classic just one week ago.
“[Bromell has] done a fantastic job and it’s really, really exciting to see an athlete with the potential that he [has] to become a world-class 100-meter sprinter, and that is the marquee event in the sport,” Johnson said. “Based on what I’ve seen, there’s no reason to believe that he can’t be consistent and ultimately be one of those American athletes competing for the medals.”
Justin Gatlin, current US Olympian and the 2004 Summer Olympics gold-medalist in the 100-meter dash, also knows the rising star from Baylor.
“The sky’s the limit,” Gatlin said of Bromell. “Some people question his height and his size, but he’s able to use his body to his advantage.”
When asked about the support from former and current Olympians, Bromell said he was flattered, but continued to remind the media, as well as himself, he is not looking that far ahead just yet.
“It feels good to have that person on my back, to have someone looking over me that’s at that level already, just to make sure I go down the right path I need to go on,” Bromell said. “I’ve still got to work hard. I tell everyone the same thing. I go to school, come to practice, I go home and I repeat. I don’t take any days off. I just keep moving forward, stay strong. That’s how great athletes are born.”